EU And Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation To Fight Poverty-related Diseases

The European Union and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged to work together to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other poverty-related diseases that together affect more than 1 billion people worldwide.

The agreement, signed in Paris on Monday by foundation co-chair Bill Gates and European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, creates a new strategic partnership for research in the area. Between 2007 and 2011, the foundation and the European Commission have contributed around EUR 2.4 billion($3.1 billion) to research and development focused on poverty-related infectious diseases, supporting the development of more than 20 new and improved products.

The partnership will invest in research and development of life-saving interventions to improve the health and well-being of people living in developing countries. In addition to accelerating the development of much-needed drugs, vaccines and diagnostics, the two organizations will also seek to improve affordable and sustainable pathways to ensure that these products quickly reach those in greatest need.

Commissioner Quinn said, "Our goal in this new partnership is to work together to develop at least one new and better health product per year. This will represent a big step forward for the millions who suffer from poverty-related diseases."

"With sufficient resources and political commitment, we can together improve the lives of millions before the end of this decade," said Gates. "The foundation is completely committed to supporting efforts to develop life-saving products to help solve some of the world's toughest problems. Partnership with the Commission and other funders is critical to the success of our common mission."

The foundation and the EC are planning to launch a joint innovation prize at the 2014 Innovation Convention, to recognize and reward innovations that address challenges in current approaches to global health.

The Commission and the foundation will also jointly fund clinical development of new tools to treat and prevent HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other neglected infectious diseases such as diarrhoeal diseases, Buruli ulcer, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis and sleeping sickness. Much of this work will be carried out through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), a flagship initiative of the European Union, with currently 16 European and 30 sub-Saharan African partner countries involved.

EDCTP will soon enter its second phase, to cover more phases of clinical trials and more disease areas. EDCTP is poised to be a major supporter of product development and capacity building in disease endemic countries.

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