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Funding too concentrated on ‘big three’ diseases

Certain tropical diseases are being unjustly ignored in Africa because funding is so heavily concentrated on the 'big three' (HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria), according to a news piece in the BMJ1. The neglected tropical diseases include schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and the soil transmitted helminth infections, and are responsible for as many as half a million deaths a year. According to the article, instead of 95% of funding being addressed to the 'big three', only spending 90% and freeing up 5% of funds would do a lot to address the other neglected diseases which can be effectively treated with a minimum budget, estimated at $0.40 a year per person. A proposed rapid impact package includes four drugs, three of which would be donated by multinational pharmaceutical companies. Compared to a minimum of $200 per year to treat HIV/AIDS, $200 to treat a single dose of TB and $7-10 to treat a single dose of malaria, the cost of the package would be negligible.

There are currently six public-private partnerships working in Africa linked to specific neglected tropical diseases, each reaching a large number of people. There are plans to bring them all together, thereby removing morbidity due to these diseases from the burden of disease equation for Africa. The challenge is to get donors to adopt a more evenly balanced funding strategy towards tropical diseases.

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1Morales K (2005). Funding in Africa is concentrating too heavily on the 'big three'. BMJ, vol 331, 15th October 2005, pp 866

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Funding too concentrated on ‘big three’ diseases. Field Exchange 27, March 2006. p14. www.ennonline.net/fex/27/funding

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