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 The Developing World > Securing a healthy future

Securing a healthy future


Problems caused by numerous endemic diseases and poor health systems infrastructure are features common to many developing countries. They lead to high mortality rates for children and adults compared to other parts of the world, and severely reduce quality of life for all.

The EU's Fifth Framework Programme worked at a number of levels to improve the health of people through targeted research projects. A range of themes were covered from research on health policy, developing drugs, vaccines and diagnostic products to biological, clinical and epidemiological aspects of disease management.

In past programmes, INCO health research concentrated on battling against classical tropical diseases, and important work continues here. But its role has been expanded in recent years to incorporate a more global approach to health issues. Social and economic aspects are addressed - such as poverty - and many projects now cover health systems and health policy research. The EU's concerted drive to address the problems of malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS/HIV is also reflected in INCO's work priorities and calls through accompanying measures.

Driving health reforms

Research into the health sector policies in China are leading to improved services for the public. Project partners - including study input from Sweden, Germany and the UK - analysed how changes in health financing have affected urban health services in the Chinese cities of Nantong and Zibo. Researchers examined demographics, socio-economic influences, epidemiology and finance. The results are being used by Chinese health service managers as they continue to improve local service provision for all sections of society.


Fighting parasitic disease

Schistosomiasis or bilharzia is a parasitic disease affecting about 200 million people in tropical and sub-tropical countries. Treatment is almost solely via a drug called Praziquantel.
INCO funded six European and nine African scientific and medical organisations to examine various issues relating to the use of the drug and the disease's resistance to it. Reference centres have been set up in Africa where staff have been trained to monitor drug resistance. The broad range of data collected - from dosages to side-effects - is helping national health authorities use Praziquantel more effectively and efficiently.

Confirming the international role of community research