Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

: 2016  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 366--367

Dearth in research and development of health products for responding to neglected diseases: An urgent public health need

Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, 3rd Floor, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Dearth in research and development of health products for responding to neglected diseases: An urgent public health need.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:366-367

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Dearth in research and development of health products for responding to neglected diseases: An urgent public health need. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Aug 9 ];9:366-367
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Full Text

Dear Sir,

Neglected tropical diseases or diseases of poverty are those which predominantly affect low and middle-income nations and has been acknowledged as the key reasons for morbidity, disability, mortality, impairment in the quality of life, and further aggravation of the poverty. [1] These diseases include not only the infectious and parasitic diseases, but even nutritional deficiencies, maternal and child conditions, and respiratory-cardiovascular-digestive diseases. [1],[2]

In fact, despite being recognized as one of the major public health concerns, only four new treatments have been approved for these diseases in more than a decade, and only 1% of the global investment on research and development (R and D) has been allocated to the neglected diseases. [1] On the contrary, in high-income nations, the R and D activities for health products have been extensively in the same period, which reflects the extent of disparity under heterogeneous settings. [1],[3]

These neglected diseases are often characterized by minimal market support, owing to the limited commercial gain for the manufacturers. [2],[3] This is primarily due to the inability of the vulnerable group of people to either afford or to pay for the diagnostics, drugs, or prophylactic options. [2] Further, despite getting assistance from other stakeholders, there is no sustained mechanism to ensure constant funding or warrant coordination at different levels between donors for these diseases. [3]

Acknowledging the dearth of research activities in these neglected diseases, the World Health Assembly has come with a framework to ensure financing and operation through the establishment of a new fund, which can assist in strengthening of the R and D activities for the diseases to eventually lead to the manufacture and release of new health products. [1] Simultaneously, the stakeholders should work with an aim to develop the products (diagnostic, prophylactic, and therapeutic) in such a way that they are affordable, accessible, acceptable and available to more than 1.4 billion people exposed to the risk of neglected diseases in low-resource settings. [1],[2],[3]

However, the benefits can be achieved only if the existing problems are prioritized rationally so that a better coordination can be ensured from the diversified stakeholders. [4] To uniformly encourage the R and D of the health products, the proposed fund should be of sufficient scale, with a gradual up-scaling annually to meet future needs; constituted with new money and not by redistribution of the already available funds for the ongoing public health activities; maintain a balance between short- and long-term needs of the diseases; explore for avenues to rope in new partners; and ensure that the decision to spend the fund is done in a transparent, objective and nonpolitical evidence-based manner. [1],[2],[3]

To conclude, to effectively respond to the challenge of the neglected diseases, there is a great need to identify and prioritize the areas which require funding for R and D of products, and at the same time establish a fund to ensure that the identified priorities are met, and the disease are controlled in the coming years.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1WHO, TDR. Health product research and development fund: A proposal for financing and operation. Geneva: WHO Press; 2016. p. 1-26.
2TDR. Planning, monitoring and evaluation framework for research capacity strengthening updated. Geneva: WHO Press; 2016. p. 1-13.
3Hambleton SJ. Changes in health financing. Med J Aust 2014;200:250.
4Ranson K, Law TJ, Bennett S. Establishing health systems financing research priorities in developing countries using a participatory methodology. Soc Sci Med 2010;70:1933-42.