Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Only a couple of donors giving to only a couple of diseases

A new study reveals that when it comes to the diseases of poverty, there are too few donors giving for too few diseases.

The study wanted to determine how much money is spent and who is spending it to battle the diseases of poverty. The study was conducted by the George Institute for International Health, Australia.

The institute finds that 80% of all of the money donated goes to AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. However, there are 27 different diseases total that effect those in poverty. A vast majority of the money comes from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the US National Institutes of Health.

TropiKA has the full details on the survey from writer Paul Chinnock.

The failure to provide an equivalent level of support to research on the other 27 diseases also examined in the project is of great concern. The authors of the report say that: “...the concentration of funding on AIDS, TB, and malaria ... suggests that investment decisions are not only influenced by scientific or epidemiological considerations, but may also be influenced by factors such as the presence of PDPs [product development partnerships] or civil society groups with active advocacy, fundraising, and investment activities”.

The project, the ‘G-FINDER survey’ is being conducted by the George Institute for International Health, Australia. According to the report (which appears as a ‘Policy Forum’ article in PLoS Medicine) pneumonia and diarrhoeal illness, which are major causes of mortality in developing countries, received less than 6% of funding. Kinetoplastid diseases such as sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas’ disease, which affect more than 13 million people worldwide annually, receive less than 5% of global health funding, amounting to $125 million. Typhoid receives $9 million, 0.4% of total funds. The authors say that the funding provided “was not enough to create even one new product” to address many of these diseases.

Another worrying finding is that the number of donors was limited, with just two funders – the US National Institutes of Health and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – accounting for 60% of the funds provided. These two bodies mainly focus on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. With regard to more neglected diseases, other funders often dominate; for example nearly 90 per cent of funding for the blinding bacterial eye infection trachoma comes from the Wellcome Trust. Such almost total dependency on one donor has been described as an ‘eggs in one basket approach’.

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