Global health R&D creates tools to combat killers like HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases. It is also a vehicle for job growth and economic activity here in the United States. Progress is made by researchers every day around the U.S., leading to treatments and cures for diseases that take lives here and abroad while strengthening our economy and promoting global stability and security.
- MenAfriVac, a new meningitis vaccine developed with federal support, is expected to prevent 437,000 cases of meningitis over the next 10 years, saving 43,500 lives and averting 105,000 disabilities.
- The GeneXpert tuberculosis diagnostic test has made it possible to diagnose TB in minutes, as opposed to months, and is expected to triple the number of patients properly diagnosed with drug-resistant TB.
- In the US alone, polio vaccination over the past 50 years has resulted in a net savings of $180 billion.
- For every dollar spent on measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, more than $21 is saved in direct medical costs.
- With support from USAID, New York-based product development partnership DNDi has developed an easy-to-use, affordable, non-patented tablet for treatment of Chagas disease in young children, as well as a new, cost-effective treatment for leishmaniasis that reduces treatment time by 12 days.
- The US government has been involved in the development of 24 of the 45 innovative global health products (53%) introduced between 2000 and 2010.
Despite these advances, there is still a lot of work to be done. Even here in the United States, neglected tropical diseases and other traditionally global diseases are emerging as threats all across the country.
Neglected tropical diseases affect more than 1 billion people worldwide. Many of these NTDs, including those with the highest death rates, do not have adequate treatments. Many existing drugs date back to the colonial period and are extremely toxic, expensive and difficult to administer in resource-poor settings.
It is estimated that there are between 110,000 to 200,000 new infections of dengue fever annually in the United States.
2012 is on track to be the deadliest year for West Nile virus in the United States.
Trachoma is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness and results in an estimated $2.9 billion in lost productivity each year.
Not only has Louisiana seen a documented case of Chagas disease, but experts caution that post-hurricane conditions could result in additional infections such as dengue fever.
A CDC study indicated that 5% of Key West, FL. residents were infected with dengue in 2009.
Our nation needs the infrastructures and expertise to combat global diseases before and when they hit our shores. And that capacity provides an economic return for the US, creating new businesses and jobs. And over the longer term, our nation benefits greatly from successful efforts to eradicate global diseases because these diseases are a primary contributor to the entrenched impoverishment that prevents new export markets from emerging in developing nations. Even in this tough economic environment, continued federal funding and support for global health R&D is the smart thing to do for the U.S. and the right thing to do for the world.