For more than 40 years, the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Antwerp) has been organising an annual conference on the topic of public health importance in developing countries. Its aim is to provide an up-to-date overview of the problem and possible solutions by bringing together leading experts, health professionals and scientists from north and south. This year, the conference is jointly organised by the Institute of Tropical Medicine and Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), and will focus on issues related to the treatment of major tropical diseases. More specifically, the conference will focus on the ever-increasing problem of drug resistance in malaria and other diseases, the lack of safe and efficacious drugs for forgotten diseases such as trypanosomiasis and leishmaniasis, and the limited access to existing or new drugs for many people in the developing world.
The conference has two closely related objectives. One is to review key aspects linked to the rise and spread of drug resistance in four major parasitic diseases, namely malaria, trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and helmintiasis. The other is to review and discuss the biomedical and socio-economic factors limiting the development of new molecules and the access of populations to efficacious drugs. The desired outcome will be tentative guidelines for policies in current drug use and future drug development and a set of suggestions aimed at tackling/reducing the problem of drug resistance. Priority research areas will be identified.
The evolution of resistance to drugs commonly used against parasitic diseases represents one of the most important factors towards the development and implementation of an effective disease control programme. It has been shown that increased resistance to commonly used antimalarial drugs will result in a substantial increase in mortality and morbidity. With the possible exception of artemisinin derivates, resistance has emerged to every antimalarial. However, fewer and fewer resources are being invested in the development of new drugs. The often poor quality of drugs available on local markets is an additional problem that might increase the selection of resistant strains and decrease the access of local population to efficacious treatments. This conference will create the opportunity for interaction between health professionals across disciplines and diseases, and its organisation will be thematic. Five major topics will be covered by invited speakers:
l) importance and history of drug resistance with a review of the current situation
2) spread of resistance and monitoring with particular emphasis on modelling, known factors for the spread of resistance, methods for its monitoring and their interpretation
3) prevention and control of drug resistance through drug policy: difficulties and constraints for change
4) drug availability, particularly drug production, quality control and supply
5) research and development of new drugs, taking into account the point of view of international health organisations and that of the pharmaceutical drug industry.
The desired outcome will be a set of recommendations aimed at tackling/reducing the problem of drug resistance, and tentative guidelines for drug policy changes. Priority research areas will be identified. The synthesis of discussions and recommendations will be published as 'Proceedings' in an international peer-reviewed journal.
Prince Leopold Institute of Tropical Medicine
Tel: +32 3 247 6283
Fax: +32 3 247 6258