Investment in Global Health

Global health R&D creates tools to combat threats like COVID-19, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It is also a vehicle for job growth and economic activity here in the United States while promoting global stability and security. Every day, researchers across the country make progress against these global health threats, bringing us closer to treatments and cures for diseases that continue to take lives at home and abroad. 

  • Since its introduction in 2010, more than 315 million people across 24 countries in the meningitis belt of Sub-Saharan Africa have been vaccinated with MenAfriVac, an affordable vaccine targeting meningitis A. In countries where the vaccine has been introduced, meningitis A has been practically eliminated. (PATH)

  • During the 51st Union World Conference on Lung Health, researchers announced a study showing that a new combination of four existing antibiotics can reduce the treatment time for tuberculosis by a third. This shortened time frame allows for a faster recovery, improved quality of life, and reduced treatment costs. (The Union)

  • Since 1988, polio eradication efforts have globally saved an estimated $27 billion. A world free of polio would add an additional savings of $14 billion by 2050. (Global Polio Eradication Initiative)

  • For every dollar spent on childhood vaccines (ex. HPV, hepatitis B, measles-mumps-rubella, etc.), the return on investment is an average of $44 in low- and middle-income countries, indicating an excellent investment. (Ozawa et al. Health Affairs. 2016.)

  • In October 2020, the first treatment against the Ebola virus was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The treatment, named Inmazeb, significantly improved the survival rate, marking a critical milestone in the fight against Ebola. This announcement follows the 2019 approval of Ervebo, the first approved Ebola vaccine. (FDA)

  • In 2018, the U.S. government invested over $2.4 billion in global health R&D, maintaining its position as the largest government funder of R&D to combat global health challenges. (G-FINDER)

Despite these advances, there is still a lot of work to be done. Increased prevalence and severity of diseases like COVID-19, neglected tropical diseases, and other global health threats continue to pose challenges that require extensive R&D investment and international collaboration. 

  • COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread across the globe, having infected over 52 million people worldwide as of November 2020. Among those hardest hit have been communities which have already been historically disadvantaged by disease. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • Many antibiotics and antivirals used to fight disease are becoming increasingly ineffective as antimicrobial resistance increases. This resistance is worrisome particularly around efforts to fight tuberculosis, as over 600,000 tuberculosis patients in 2017 displayed resistance to rifampicin, the most effective tuberculosis drug. (World Health Organization WHO)

  • The incidence of dengue has increased 8 fold since 2000, with an estimated 390 million people infected globally each year. While only nine countries experienced severe dengue outbreaks before 1970, the disease is now endemic in 100 countries. (WHO)

  • Vaccine hesitancy threatens to reverse progress against vaccine-preventable diseases. For example, the measles cases have increased by 30% globally, with many countries seeing a resurgence. While the reasons for this increase are complex, vaccine hesitancy is widely viewed as a partial contributor. (WHO)

  • Despite significant medical progress, 37 million people worldwide continue to live with HIV, and nearly a million people a year die from the disease. Young girls and women aged 15–24 are increasingly affected, accounting for 1 in 4 HIV infections in Sub-Saharan Africa despite being only 10% of the population. (WHO)

To effectively lead in global health R&D against current and future threats, the United States requires infrastructure and expertise. Strengthening the U.S. research apparatus to address global health issues stimulates the economy and more broadly addresses the entrenched impoverishment and health inequity issues around the world. Without sustained federal funding and support for global health R&D, progress against our biggest global health challenges cannot continue.

To view the Top 10 Reasons to Invest in Global Health R&D, click here.

Investment in Global Health