By Mark Smulian | 23 August 2013
The UK is to invest in public-private partnerships set up to combat fatal diseases in the developing world.
Its Department for International Development is investing £138m over the next five years in nine partnerships to support the development of new drugs, vaccines, insecticides, diagnostic tools and microbicides to prevent, diagnose or treat diseases.
Diseases to be targeted include HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhoea and ‘neglected’ tropical diseases where there are either no treatments available, or they are difficult to use, or where infections have become resistant to existing drugs.
According to the DFID, each year 800,000 children die of diarrhoea; 660,000 people die of malaria – most of them children – 1.4 million die of tuberculosis and more than 1 million people have a ‘neglected’ tropical disease such as sleeping sickness, skin sores and worm conditions.
Many pharmaceutical companies have, despite this, been reluctant to research and develop new products in these cases because of the small financial returns, the department said.
UK International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: ‘The development of new technologies is vital if we are to improve the health of the poorest people through better treatment and prevention and avoid the unnecessary deaths of children.
‘Working together in product development partnerships, the public and private sectors have a chance to bring together their expertise for the benefit of millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.’
The nine product development partnerships supported by the DFID are:
• Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative.
• Medicines for Malaria Venture.
• Innovative Vector Control Consortium.
• Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.
• TB Alliance.
• Aeras (new TB vaccines)
• New Products for Diarrhoea and Malaria.
• International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
• International Partnership for Microbicides.