- Global diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria take eight lives per minute while almost one in five of all global health deaths each year are in children under the age of 5. Fortunately, current global health R&D efforts are saving lives. For example, a public-private partnership led to the development of vaccine vial monitors, a global health technology that has ensured the safe delivery of an extra 140 million doses of vaccine — saving 140,000 lives worldwide.
- Approximately 64% of every dollar the U.S. government spends on global health R&D goes to supporting jobs for U.S.-based researchers and product developers and building and improving U.S. research and technological capacity.
- There is an urgent need to better detect, prevent and treat global diseases that are increasingly prevalent in the United States. Building the research capacity now will be critical to ensuring that we are adequately prepared as new global health threats emerge.
- While the U.S. is still the world leader in global health R&D, emerging nations such as China are becoming more competitive. In fact, the Chinese government has invested heavily in its vaccine industry, which is one of the fastest growing in the world and which, in 2009, was able to produce the first effective vaccine for H1N1 or "bird flu" in only 87 days, beating competitors from the U.S. and Europe.
- U.S. investment in global health R&D helps protect Americans who are serving, working or traveling abroad. As the eighth largest funder of global health R&D in the world, the Department of Defense has been instrumental in protecting Americans by developing a variety of global health interventions. These include developing the first vaccine for Japanese encephalitis, conducting the first HIV/AIDS vaccine trial and demonstrating the efficacy of various malaria treatment and prevention products.
- U.S. research universities — such as the University of Georgia's NIH-funded lab that is actively researching potential vaccine candidates for Chagas disease — are major recipients of federal funding for global health R&D. At the same time there is increasing student demand to study global health in the U.S. Enrollment in global health programs in the U.S. and Canada more than doubled between 2006 and 2009 and universities have now created over 300 global health programs in 97 countries.
- The Human Genome Project (HGP) — an international research collaboration started with U.S. government R&D funding — has been critical in understanding the genomes of various global viruses such as SARS or H1N1 ("bird flu"). Through government investment in the HGP, the U.S. has been able to maintain a cadre of the world's most talented genomics researchers and scientists and remain one of the global leaders in this emerging scientific field.
- Seventy-five percent of TB cases arise in people aged 15 to 54 — during their most productive years. On average, a TB patient loses 3-4 months of work time and 30% of yearly household earnings because of the disease. However, with public- and private-sector funding, there are many promising TB drugs, such as Moxifloxacin, currently in clinical trials. Overcoming TB with these drugs is crucial to fostering economic growth and development in developing countries and would help stabilize these potential export markets.
- Research has led to the polio vaccine and the near-eradication of polio. Since 1988, 2.5 billion children around the world have been vaccinated, and the number of polio cases has decreased by 99%. Introduction of the vaccine has saved the U.S. an estimated $180 billion in treatment costs for the disease. Since 2010, almost 55 million people have been vaccinated against a deadly form of meningitis, and it is estimated to save $350 million over 10 years.
- There is widespread support for global health R&D among the American public. A poll commissioned in 2011 by Research!America found that 78% of respondents believe that it is either very or somewhat important "that the U.S. work to improve health globally through research and development."
Tell us what you think.
Research!America came up with our list of top 10* reasons for why the U.S. should invest in global health R&D.** But we want to hear from you. What do you think are the top reasons the U.S. should invest in global health R&D? What other reasons should we have included? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment on our blog.
**Sources available upon request to firstname.lastname@example.org.