POST 00726E : MINISTERIAL SUMMIT ON HEALTH RESEARCH 21 November 2004 _____________________________________ The World Health Organization has convened, together with the Government of Mexico, a Ministerial Summit on Health Research from November 16-20, 2004 in Mexico City, Mexico. The summit was organized in collaboration with the Global Forum for Health Research. The article below was published in the New York Times. You will find links at the bottom for those interested to access the WHO Summit page or read the Global Forum's Statement. _____________________________________ In Health Care, Gap Between Rich and Poor Persists, W.H.O. Says By ELISABETH MALKIN New York Times : November 11, 2004 MEXICO CITY, Nov. 10 - Despite significant gains in medical science, disparities in public health persist between rich and poor countries, the World Health Organization said in a report released here on Wednesday. The report, released in advance of a W.H.O. meeting here next week of health ministers from 30 countries, called for more research into how health care is delivered. "Half of the world's deaths could be prevented with simple and cost-effective interventions," said the report. "But not enough is known about how to make these more widely available to the people who need them," it continued. The study said that inadequate health systems in developing countries had been a constraint in global programs to fights AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. "Countries with few resources struggle with creaking infrastructure, inadequate financing, migrating doctors and nurses and lack of basic information on health indicators," the study's authors concluded. The study pointed to market reforms in the health sector, promoted by the World Bank in the 1980's, as one reason for steadily weakening public health systems in developing countries. The push toward privatization might have accentuated disparities in the health care available to rich and poor, the report said. It also pointed to "gross inequities in the research process at both global and national levels" and said treatments in the developing world must be tailored to local conditions.For example, the report cited a study in Haiti that found that babies born to mothers treated with antiretroviral drugs to prevent the transmission of H.I.V. might then die of congenital syphilis. A second report released here on Wednesday, by the Global Forum for Health Research, a Geneva-based nonprofit group, found that spending on health research rose from $84.9 billion in 1998 to $105.9 billion in 2001. Despite this, there has been little headway in closing the gap between rich and poor countries in financing for research into the infectious diseases that disproportionately affect developing countries, like malaria and tuberculosis, the report said. The Global Forum, which will hold its own meeting parallel to the W.H.O. conference, said that less than 10 percent of spending on health research goes to study 90 percent of the world's diseases. "Very few infectious diseases are getting sufficient attention," said Stephen Matlin, the group's executive director. "They remain neglected diseases." Pharmaceutical companies account for 48 percent of the spending for medical research, reflecting in part the increased cost of bringing a drug to market. The public sector, led by rising budgets at the National Institutes of Health in the United States, spends 44 percent of all research funds. Private foundations and universities account for the other 8 percent. Pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to release information about their research, Mr. Matlin said, but the evidence is that much of their spending goes to developing therapies for noncommunicable diseases prevalent in wealthier countries. Mr. Matlin pointed to mergers that have left the industry in the hands of a few companies and speculated that "it may be that larger companies are getting less innovative." "Our direct concern is to see an increase in spending on infectious diseases in low- and middle-income countries and to change priorities," he said. For more details on the Summit, visit : http://www.who.int/rpc/summit/en or read the Global Forum Statement at : http://www.globalforumhealth.org/forum8/statement.html ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Visit the TECHNET21 Website at http://www.technet21.org You will find instructions to subscribe, a direct access to archives, links to reference documents and other features. ______________________________________________________________________________ To UNSUBSCRIBE, send a message to : mailto:LISTSERV@listes.ulaval.ca Leave the subject area BLANK In the message body, write unsubscribe TECHNET21E ______________________________________________________________________________ The World Health Organization and UNICEF support TechNet21. The TechNet21 e-Forum is a communication/information tool for generation of ideas on how to improve immunization services. 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