Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Chronic Diseases Emerge as a Global Health Concern

Chronic Diseases Emerge as a Global Health ConcernLast week, I joined representatives from the U.S. government, foreign governments, foundations, partners, and individuals from the global health field working in developing countries for five days of discussion during the Global Health Council (GHC) annual conference. The theme was Community Health: delivering, serving, engaging, and leading. Participants heard valuable lessons-learned and experiential evidence from those on the frontlines that would support their own community health programs in resource-poor settings.

Often, society associates developing countries with infectious diseases. The high prevalence of these diseases was reflected in more than 24 sessions dedicated to the “big three”: HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria; and, the international community continues to agree that infectious diseases remain an enormous barrier country health systems need to battle. Several product development partnerships shared their successes and challenges trying to develop better and more effective diagnostics tools, prevention methods, drugs and vaccines for infectious diseases. The lay world is all too well aware how debilitating infectious diseases can be especially to those living in resource-poor settings.

At the GHC conference however, a packed audience also heard discussions about chronic disease in developing countries – specifically, cancer which is of growing concern. In 2002, there were 5.1 million new cases in developed countries and 5.8 million new cases in developing countries. By 2020, experts predict the majority of the 15-20 million new cases of cancer will occur in developing countries. Panelists emphasized cancer programs must be bolstered by a health system infrastructure, including cancer registries and robust screening programs, all of which require additional human and financial capital.

New capital and innovative, low-cost programs are needed to address many global health issues, including both infectious and emerging chronic diseases. The FasterCures Philanthropy Advisory Service allows for new capital to meet such innovative ideas, particularly with respect to biomedical research. Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Philanthropy Advisory Service will create a transparent, information marketplace for philanthropists to learn about effective and high-impact nonprofit disease research organizations. The initiative aims to channel philanthropic investment to areas where there are demonstrated funding gaps both in global and domestic health research. Initially the Philanthropy Advisory Service will focus on malaria and tuberculosis that plague the developing world, as well as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis that impact the developed world. Ultimately, the Philanthropy Advisory Service can facilitate giving by providing clear and transparent information and thus direct capital for under-resourced, but scientifically-urgent research programs for all diseases around the world.

--Priya Patil, Global Health Program Manager, FasterCures

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Priya,
Tackling both infectious and emerging chronic diseases are important in the improvement of health status of the citizenry in the developing world and hence need to be looked into by the Philantropy Advisory Service. However i think malaria (prevention and control) and early screening for cervical cancer (which is quite cheap and effective in preventing the disease from reaching the advanced stages at which most patients present in the clinics in africa)should be singled out as needing promotion in the developing world.


Vincent Ahonsi, M.D.