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Page last update: 25/12/2008

Research, disease: carving out a role for Africa in the fight against communicable diseases

Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin was in Africa last week to bring African partners onboard an ambitious €600 million joint research initiative aimed at tackling those communicable diseases that threaten the continent’s well-being.

Commissioner Busquin urged 46 African health ministers to mobilise around the Commission’s ambitious Europe-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). Speaking at a recent World Health Organisation gathering in Johannesburg, South Africa, he called upon them to make it an important component of their national priorities.
“[This] is a unique opportunity for African and European researchers, from academia, the public sector and industry, to join hands in fighting the world's worst epidemics and demonstrate real solidarity towards the populations that need it most,” he explained. The EDCTP will focus its attention on three of Africa’s biggest killer diseases: AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
By directing attention towards more neglected diseases, the initiative hopes to help redress the current imbalance in which 10% of research activity is devoted to the ailments that make up 90% of the world’s disease burden. It also aims to build local research capacity to solve local problems in African and other developing countries.
The €600 million initiative is part of the international co-operation aspect of the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme. The EU has provided €200 million to back efforts in this field, with another €200 million each coming from research programmes in Member States and the private sector.

Principled framework
The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies, an independent group of ethicists, has welcomed the EDCTP. Nevertheless, a respect for fundamental human rights should underscore EU-funded clinical trials in developing countries, the group insists.

"The fundamental ethical rules applied to clinical trials in industrialised countries are to be applicable everywhere," it said in a recent opinion.
These overarching principles include respect for human dignity, non-exploitation, non-discrimination, and the giving of free and informed consent. The group, chaired by Swedish philosopher Göran Hermerén, also emphasised that research in developing countries should only be carried out if it complies with the health needs of the host country and not for reasons of “pure convenience”.

Source: EU sources
More Information:
Commission press release

 

Last update: 25 December 2008 | Top