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EU and WHO to combat infectious diseases together

The European Commission and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are to work together to combat the resurgence of infectious diseases and understand their link with poverty. Meeting at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and WHO Director General ...

The European Commission and the World Health Organisation (WHO) are to work together to combat the resurgence of infectious diseases and understand their link with poverty. Meeting at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin and WHO Director General Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland underlined the need to step up research in order to improve health at a global level, promising to encourage new partnerships spanning their respective organisations. 'The emergence of major communicable diseases such as HIV and the resurgence of malaria and tuberculosis, especially in the least developed regions, raises the demand for research at a time of rapid advances in molecular medicine and biotechnology,' said Mr Busquin and Dr Brundtland in a joint statement. 'New strategies must mobilise key actors - those developing relevant technologies and those streamlining and making use of them.' From the EU's perspective the creation of a European Research Area should foster greater scientific cooperation which Mr Busqin hopes will speed up the delivery of practical solutions. Both the Commission and WHO would like to extend this cooperation to scientific partnerships with researchers from developing countries as well as strengthening research capacities in these countries in order to improve the health of the global population. The EC acknowledges the critical importance of international public goods becoming accessible to all those in need, and is committed to encouraging the faster delivery of these goods. Concern that health inequalities among and within countries remain entrenched has spurred Mr Busquin and Dr Brundtland to focus attention on research to guide and monitor health system development, committing their institutions to raising the level of resources necessary to fund health research and development. In the EU's Fifth Framework Programme 120 million euro has been committed to control of infectious diseases, 30 million of which has already been dedicated to combating global problems such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. During the Fourth Framework Programme, 40 million was spent through the programme for international cooperation INCO, and a further 90 million euro was spent on the control of infectious diseases under the BIOMED programme, 14 million of which was devoted specifically to AIDS research.