EDCTP2: What it means for European support for global health R&D
In this guest post, Renate Baehr—executive director of Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung—writes about the next rendition of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and how its expansion will impact more lives in low- and middle-income countries.
April 2014 was an important month for European support for global health research and development (R&D). Already the world’s leading contributor of development assistance (as measured by Official Development Assistance), and at the forefront of R&D in the health and pharmaceutical sectors, the European Union (EU) has agreed to significantly increase its budgetary support for global health R&D to tackle poverty-related and neglected diseases.
Last month, the European Parliament and EU Member States reached an agreement on the successor to EDCTP —imaginatively entitled—EDCTP2. The EDCTP was established in 2003 and is a partnership of 16 European countries—among which 14 are members of the EU—and 48 sub-Saharan African countries, funded through the EU’s multiannual R&D budget, Horizon 2020. Its original objective when founded was to address the critical need for new and innovative medical products to prevent, diagnose, and treat HIV and AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis (TB).
- The EDCTP was established in 2003 and is a partnership of 16 European countries—among which 14 are members of the EU—and 48 sub-Saharan African countries, funded through the EU’s multiannual R&D budget, Horizon 2020. Photo: PATH/Evelyn Hockstein
Following its successful first cycle, both the scope and the budget of EDCTP have now been expanded. With a budget of €683 million, EDCTP2 will spearhead collaborative efforts to support the clinical development of new or improved diagnostics, drugs, vaccines, and microbicides against HIV and AIDS, TB, and malaria. The scope of EDCTP will also expand to include neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding Chagas disease). Additionally, at a meeting in The Hague at the beginning of this month, the program welcomed eight African countries to join EDCTP. This is the first time in the program’s history that African countries will formally participate, a move which will for the first time enable their full participation in the EDCTP’s governance and decision-making structures through the EDCTP General Assembly.
Why is this important? Because poverty-related neglected diseases—namely HIV and AIDS, malaria, TB, and the 17 NTDs listed by the World Health Organization here—affect more than one billion people across the globe. To respond to this challenge, EDCTP2 is directed towards supporting and developing much-needed, affordable, innovative, and quality health products to prevent, diagnose, and treat neglected infectious diseases. Not only is it targeted at having new products developed for market release by the end of the program, but in order to ensure that the successes of the program are sustained, EDCTP2 will also focus on increasing transnational research and developing research capacities in sub-Saharan Africa where they are needed on the ground.
Breakthroughs achieved by EDCTP2 over the next 10-years have the potential to transform the lives of millions of people living with the devastating effects of TB, HIV and AIDS, and malaria. Global health R&D can have a direct impact on the health of people living in low- and middle-income countries, lifting a burden of diseases that stifles economic growth and prevents young men and women from reaching their full potential, socially and economically. EDCTP2 is one contribution to ending this, and we call on EU Member States to take this example and follow suit by ramping up their own funding for innovative ways to fight these diseases and advance global health. We look forward with interest as to how it will progress in the coming years.
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