Médecins Sans Frontières, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Global Health Program Convene Medical Experts from Around the World for New York Conference
New York, 5 November 2012 — Meeting the lifesaving needs of people left behind by the global health revolution will be the focus of a major medical conference in December in New York, held by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Global Health Program.
The symposium, Lives in the Balance: Delivering Medical Innovations for Neglected Patients and Populations, will bring together some of the top minds in the field of global health. The goal will be to examine the progress and shortcomings of a decade’s worth of international initiatives aimed at addressing urgent health needs of the poorest populations in the world. Dr Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the US National Institutes of Health, will deliver the keynote address at the symposium, which will take place 13-14 December 2012, at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
“While there have been great strides in combating global medical crises such as AIDS, malaria, and malnutrition, there has been an astonishing lack of innovation delivered in the fight against diseases like drug-resistant tuberculosis, Chagas disease, and other neglected diseases that take a tremendous toll,” said Dr Unni Karunakara, MSF’s International President. “The revolution in global health has yet to reach a broad swath of humanity: those who continue to suffer in silence from deadly—yet treatable—diseases.”
Ten years ago, researchers showed that from 1975 to 1999 only 1.1 percent of new drugs and medications were developed for neglected tropical diseases and tuberculosis despite the fact that these diseases accounted for 12 percent of the global burden of disease. At that time, a number of new international collaborations, often between public and private partners, were established to close this gap. Taking stock of these initiatives, MSF and DNDi will now share findings of a new analysis of all new drugs and vaccines approved for neglected diseases from 2000 to 2011, as well as an examination of the current pipeline of potential new treatments.
“To improve the lives of the poorest and most neglected patients and have a genuine public health impact, we must not stop at the first successes we have had over the past ten years,” said Dr Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director of DNDi. “A fatal imbalance still exists between drug research and development and global health needs. We need a sustainable way to respond to this imbalance.”
The conference will bring together a broad range of researchers, medical professionals, global health experts, policymakers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology experts, donors, activists, patient advocates, and biomedical journalists and editors, as well as representatives from disease-endemic countries (such as Brazil, India, Nigeria, South Africa, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the World Bank. High-level roundtable discussions will focus on “Progress and Shortcomings of the Past Decade for R&D for Neglected Patients;” “New Tools and the R&D Landscape;” “Setting Priorities for Global Health to Ensure Innovation and Access;” and “Mechanisms for Facilitating Financing and Coordination.”
“Closing the unconscionable gap in global healthcare requires collaboration at every level,” said Dr Philip Landrigan, Dean for Global Health of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring together key leaders and stakeholders in global public health at Mount Sinai to reflect on work of the past decade and collate lessons learned to effectively map our future steps for tackling current health challenges.”
With drug-resistant TB, Chagas disease, and vaccine-preventable infections on the rise, technical sessions on each will focus on how to accelerate the development and use of new tools to control these deadly neglected diseases.
About Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)
MSF is an international independent medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, natural disasters, and exclusion from health care in more than 60 countries. On any one day, more than 27,000 individuals representing dozens of nationalities can be found providing assistance to people caught in crises around the world. They are doctors, nurses, logistics experts, administrators, epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, mental health professionals, and others who work together in accordance with MSF’s guiding principles of humanitarian action and medical ethics. MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a not-for-profit research and development organization working to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases, in particular sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, specific helminth (filarial) infections, malaria, and pediatric HIV. Since its inception in 2003, DNDi has delivered six treatments: two fixed-dose antimalarials (ASAQ and ASMQ), nifurtimox-eflornithine combination therapy (NECT) for late-stage sleeping sickness, sodium stibogluconate and paromomycin (SSG&PM) combination therapy for visceral leishmaniasis in Africa, a set of combination therapies for visceral leishmaniasis in Asia, and a pediatric dosage form of benznidazole for Chagas disease. DNDi has helped establish three clinical research platforms: Leishmaniasis East Africa Platform (LEAP) in Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda; the HAT Platform based in Africa for sleeping sickness; and the Chagas Clinical Research Platform in Latin America.
About Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Global Health Program
Mount Sinai Global Health is a new institution-wide interdisciplinary program at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. We are working to improve the health of people around the world by building global partnerships in research, education, and patient care – in turn creating a forum for collaboration among the school’s students, physicians, scientists, and trainees interested and involved in global health.