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World health needs more global resources, says ABPI

UK industry association tells government that long-term plans are needed to tackle developing world health crisis

Plans to tackle disease in the developing world will fail unless the world community sets long-term sustainable goals and commits more money and resources to building a better health infrastructure, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has warned.

Responding to a consultation on future health strategy by the Department for International Development (DFID), the industry association described short-term programmes failing to build long-term healthcare capabilities in the developing world as ìultimately misguidedî.

ìIt is very clear that the pharmaceutical industry by itself cannot ensure poor patients receive the medicines they need, but we do accept that we have a vital role to play within this shared responsibility,î said ABPI director general, Dr Richard Barker. ìThe world community, led by the most developed economies, must commit and deliver greater resources to more holistic solutions.î

He added that provision of medicines was only one part of this, and argued that better sanitation, more and better paid health workers, and product supply lines were all vital ìand stand outside the competence of pharmaceutical companies to deliverî.

In its response to the DFID consultation, the ABPI described the estimated annual cost of addressing the health priorities of low-income and developing countries of tens of billions of pounds as an ìuncomfortable realityî. With HIV/AIDs treatment needs alone recently estimated at more than £13bn per year, the ABPI said that the cost was way beyond anything that companies, or even governments of prosperous countries like the UK, can hope to muster alone.

The industry association has also told the DFID that it has a vital role to play in securing maximum benefit from public/private partnerships to address developing world health issues.

The ABPI said that since 2000, global pharma firms have invested more than £2.45bn in providing health interventions in the developing world, such as low-cost and free treatment to the world's poorest communities.

30th September 2008

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