Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

WHO

Steering plans for neglected diseases

Mary Moran criticizes plans by the World Health Organization (WHO) for tackling neglected diseases in the developing world (Nature 506, 267; 2014). Her arguments are misleading and trivialize global efforts to fix the research and development (R&D) system that is failing to address the health needs of people in these countries.

After 10 years' effort by WHO member states, the WHO Consultative Expert Working Group on R&D Financing and Coordination has proposed a framework to tackle these R&D shortcomings. This aims to promote and coordinate needs-driven innovation, sustainable funding mechanisms and patient access to health technologies.

Moran contends that the current drug pipeline for neglected diseases is “successful”. In the past ten years, however, only 4% of all new drugs and vaccines and 1% of all new chemical entities were for neglected diseases — and none was suitable for the 17 neglected tropical diseases (B. Pedrique et al. Lancet Glob. Health 1, e371–e379; 2013). Increased funding and better coordination will help, but what is really needed is a greater global incentive for needs-driven R&D.

To fulfil the working group's criteria, the WHO pilot projects need better coordination, optimization of research and accelerated delivery of health tools. This will be achieved only by strengthening capacity, testing innovative or pooled financing, developing an open-knowledge approach, and unlinking R&D costs from the end price of products.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bernard Pécoul.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Pécoul, B., Balasegaram, M. Steering plans for neglected diseases. Nature 507, 431 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/507431d

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/507431d

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing