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IP/03/1138

Brussels, 31 July 2003

Combating poverty related diseases: European Commissioner Busquin to visit Africa to promote clinical trials programme

The Europe-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) is an ambitious initiative to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis backed by €200 million of European Union money. European Research Commissioner Busquin recognises that providing funding is not enough and will be in Africa from 29 August to 2 September to raise the profile of the clinical trials programme and to encourage African countries to mobilise around this important initiative. The Commissioner will visit key research sites and meet ministers in Tanzania, Mozambique and South Africa, in particular at a WHO meeting in Johannesburg where he will address the Ministers of Health of African States.

Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: “Research into treatments for diseases doesn't just mean working in laboratories, it also means working with the victims in their own communities. By visiting some of the hardest hit parts of Africa, I hope to highlight what the clinical trials programme means in real terms: European countries working in partnership with developing countries and the pharmaceutical industry to reduce suffering and poverty. African and European countries must unite in their efforts to share expertise and build genuine political consensus, together driving forward long-term policies and programmes to tackle HIV/AIDS and other poverty-related diseases.”

Clinical Trials Programme : fighting disease through international partnership

The European Commission is supporting a long-term partnership between Europe and developing countries by providing €200 million for the development of new medicines and vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, while EU Member States will contribute at least another €4200 million. The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) was launched in April 2002 as a flagship initiative within the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme. It brings together the EU Member States plus Norway, developing countries and the pharmaceutical industry in a joint effort to combat these three poverty-linked diseases by facilitating and accelerating clinical trials for drugs and vaccines. 95% of deaths from these three diseases are in the developing world, with 90% of these deaths in Africa. Consequently, the clinical trials programme is initially targetting this continent as its top priority.

Recognising that funding research alone is not sufficient to tackle these diseases, the European Commission has initiated an ambitious programme that depends on a vastly increased level of collaboration among European countries, among developing countries, between North and South and with the pharmaceutical industry. The programme aims to develop new interventions that are appropriate for the African population by doing clinical research in Africa, where African scientists play a crucial role. In opening the European Research Area to the world, all projects are acessible to researchers from developing countries. It further requires focussing development aid on the fight against poverty, through substantial investment in research and training, and by sharing expertise, infrastructures and results.

Research in action

Commissioner Busquin will meet African leaders, see European and African researchers and clinicians working together, as well as the patients and their communities.

In Tanzania, on 29 and 30 August, the Commissioner will meet senior officials and visit a research site in Mbeya focussing on HIV/AIDS. The overall HIV prevalence among young women living in an urban area (age 18 24) is 17.9% and in women living in a rural area 8.6%.

In Mozambique on 31 August, the Commissioner will meet Prime-Minister P. Mocumbi and visit a site near Maputo dealing with all three diseases, but with particular emphasis on malaria. In Mozambique malaria is still the cause of 56% of deaths among children under 5.

In South Africa on 1 September, the Commissioner will meet Minister Ngubane and attend the WHO regional meeting in Johannesburg where he will present EDCTP to the African Health Ministers.

For further media information:

Visit the EDCTP web site: http://ec.europa.eu/research/edctp.html


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