Drug­mak­ers in Davos shift fo­cus to chronic dis­eases of poor

China Daily (Canada) - - XI’S VISIT - By REUTERS in Davos

Two decades af­ter they were spurred into ac­tion to tackle AIDS in Africa, global drug­mak­ers said onWed­nes­day that they would in­vest $50 mil­lion over three years to fight can­cer and other non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases in poor coun­tries.

Twenty-two com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Pfizer, Merck, No­var­tis, Roche, Sanofi and Glax­oSmithK­line, will con­trib­ute funds and ex­per­tise to the project, which is backed by the­World Bank.

The so-called Ac­cess Ac­cel­er­ated ini­tia­tive was an­nounced at the­World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Davos, Switzer­land, and aims to im­prove both treat­ment and pre­ven­tion.

In the past, the fo­cus of health­care in poorer parts of the world has been on fight­ing in­fec­tious dis­eases, whether through vac­ci­na­tions, drug pro­grams or the roll­out of anti-malar­ial bed­nets.

To­day, how­ever, the health­care bur­den is shift­ing as deaths from these ill­nesses de­cline, and peo­ple in in­creas­ingly ur­ban­ized pop­u­la­tions suc­cumb to dis­eases such as can­cer, di­a­betes, and heart and lung dis­or­ders fu­eled byWestern life­styles.

Such non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases are re­spon­si­ble for nearly 70 per­cent of all deaths world­wide­an­dal­most three-quar­ters of them oc­cur in low- and mid­dle-in­come coun­tries, ac­cord­ing to the WorldHealth Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Sev­erin Sch­wan, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Roche, the world’s largest maker of can­cer drugs, said his com­pany and oth­ers were al­ready im­ple­ment­ing pref­er­en­tial pric­ing for the de­vel­op­ing world but cost was only one ob­sta­cle.

Coun­tries in Africa, Asia and Latin Amer­ica also need im­proved health­care sys­tems if pa­tients are to ben­e­fit from the lat­est devel­op­ments in medicine.

“It has a lot to do with hos­pi­tal in­fra­struc­ture. You can’t ad­min­is­ter mod­ern can­cer medicines if you don’t have so­phis­ti­cated lab fa­cil­i­ties,” he said. “We’re go­ing to in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize co­op­er­a­tion in this area.”

Can­cer is the ini­tial fo­cus and drug com­pa­nies will work with the Union for In­ter­na­tional Can­cer Con­trol to test new di­ag­nos­tics and treat­ments in sev­eral ci­ties around the world on a pi­lot ba­sis.

A panda ice sculp­ture is pic­tured with the Swiss and Chi­nese flags dur­ing the launch of the Swiss-Sino Year of Tourism in Davos on Tues­day.

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