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EMBL/EMBO Joint Conference 2002

Carlos Morel, WHO, Geneva, Switzerland

Biography

Dr. Carlos M. Morel was born in Recife, Brazil and earned his MD from the Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil in 1967. In 1968, Carlos was appointed Visiting/Auxiliary Professor at the Faculty of Medical Sciences and Associate Professor at the Department of Cell Biology (University of Brasilia, Brazil). From 1969-72 he worked on his D.Sc. thesis at the molecular biology department of ISREC (Institut Suisse de Recherches Exp‰rimentales sur le Cancer), Lausanne, Switzerland, graduating with a doctorate in Molecular Biology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1974. In 1985 he became Director of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute, a specialized technical unit of FIOCRUZ, having served during the intervening time as FIOCRUZ©^s Vice-President for Research. He was eventually made President of FIOCRUZ itself, serving in the post from 1993-97. It was in this capacity that he was made a member of the cabinet of the Minister of Health of Brazil. Dr. Morel©^s relationship with the World Health Organization began fairly early on in his career when he was appointed Chair of TDR's Chagas Disease Steering Committee in 1984, followed by stints chairing TDR's Research Strengthening Group (1987-1993) and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC). In 1997, Dr. Morel was nominated by the President of Brazil to represent his country on WHO's Executive Board. The following year he was appointed Director of TDR.

Abstract

Neglected diseases, underfunded research, poor health interventions: Can we change this reality?

Infectious diseases disproportionately affect the poor and marginalized populations(1). Three key factors contribute to this burden: failure to use existing tools effectively, inadequate or non-existent tools, and insufficient knowledge of the disease(2,3). It has been estimated that less than 10% of global spending on health research is devoted to diseases or conditions that account for 90% of the global disease burden4. This "market failure", quite often reinforced by the simplistic view that present technical tools are sufficient for effective disease control, has originated a global drug gap5 and what is called today the "neglected diseases" and "the most-neglected diseases"(6,7). Recent examples of better use of existing tools and of successful development of new interventions against tropical diseases indicate that this reality can be changed. Sustainable solutions, however, will require, inter alia: (i) recognition that research is critical in the fight against disease and that prioritization is essential for health research8,9; (ii) full exploration of the potential of modern science and technology(10); (iii) new arrangements and conditions to make use of research for policy-making more sustainable(11); (iv) serious engagement of the disease endemic countries in a new, international pharmaceutical policy for all neglected diseases(3).

References

  1. Gwatkin, D. R. and Guillot, M. The Burden of Disease Among the Global Poor. 1-44. 2000. Washington, The World Bank. Health, Nutrition and Population Series.
  2. World Health Organization (1996) Investing in Health Research and Development. Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Health Research Relating to Future Intervention Options, World Health Organization (Document TDR/Gen/96.1).
  3. Trouiller, P. et al. (2002) Drug development for neglected diseases: a deficient market and a publichealth policy failure. Lancet 359, 2188-2194.
  4. Global Forum for Health Research. (2002) The 10/90 Report on Health Research 2001-2002. Currat, L. 1-224. Geneva, Global Forum for Health Research.
  5. Reich, M.R. (2000) The global drug gap. Science 287, 1979-1981.
  6. Médecins Sans Frontiéres Access to Essential Medicines Campaign and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Working Group. Berman, D. and Moon, S., eds (2001) Fatal Imbalance: The Crisis in Research and Development for Drugs for Neglected Diseases, MSF Access to Essential Medicines Campaign.
  7. Yamey, G. (2002) The world's most neglected diseases. BMJ 325, 176-177.
  8. Sachs, J.D. Steele, H., ed. (2001) Macroeconomics and Health: Investing in Health for Economic Development. Report of the Commision on Macroeconomics and Health, World Health Organization.
  9. Remme, J.H.F. et al. (2002) Strategic emphases for tropical diseases research: a TDR perspective. Trends in Parasitology in press.
  10. Kafatos, F.C. (2002) A revolutionary landscape: the restructuring of biology and its convergence with medicine. J. Mol. Biol. 319, 861-867.
  11. Sauerborn, R. et al . (1999) Strategies to enhance the use of health systems research for health sector reform. Trop. Med. Int. Health 4, 827-835.