As you may have gathered by previous posts, DSW was proud to be a partner and participant at the 7th EDCTP Forum in Berlin at the beginning of July. As well as presenting our experiences as a partner with EDCTP – more information which you find here – we were also delighted to host a special session outside of the main programme.
EDCTP in a Nutshell
On July 3rd, DSW in conjunction with speakers from the German Parliament, the European Vaccine Initiative, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and the EDCTP Secretariat, hosted a Parliamentary Roundtable on the EDCTP. As well as acting as a platform to inform German MPs of the latest state of the debate on global health R&D, it was an opportunity for DSW to introduce our newest publication – EDCTP2 in a Nutshell. This new paper, which includes information on everything you ever thought you might need to know about the EDCTP programme, can be downloaded at our website in English and German.
After the forum, we were contacted by the US-based Global Health Technology Coalition (GHTC) about summing up the week’s activities at the EDCTP Forum, and my colleague Anne Hradsky was more than happy to oblige! You can find below a Q&A with Anne on the Forum and the EDCTP in general, which originally appeared on the GHTC blog here.
Earlier this week, Anne Hradský (Advocacy Coordinator for Global Health R&D), Katharina Scheffler (Advocacy Officer) and others at GHTC member Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung—joined other European and African stakeholders for the Seventh European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnerships (EDCTP) Forum in Berlin, Germany. EDCTP—which was established in 2003 and renewed in 2014—is a partnership of 16 European countries—among which 14 are members of the European Union—and 48 sub-Saharan African countries to accelerate the development of new or improved drugs, vaccines, microbicides and diagnostics for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases.
Upon her return from the forum, Ms. Hradsky answered a few questions about the value of EDCTP, the progress it has achieved, and news and insights that came out of this year’s forum.
Q: Working at DSW, an international development and advocacy organization, could you explain why EDCTP is such a valuable mechanism for advancing global health research and development (R&D)?
EDCTP is an incredibly important tool in European Union policy for stimulating investment and research into HIV and AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. What is more, it is an important European-African partnership which is directed towards supporting and developing much-needed, affordable, innovative, and quality health products to prevent, diagnose, and treat neglected infectious diseases. This is fundamentally important for global health – diseases such as HIV and AIDS, malaria, TB affect more than one billion people across the globe. What is more, this burden fall disproportionately on young women, depriving them of their full potential.
Concretely, the EDCTP boosts the development of new or improved health technologies by supporting multicentre and multinational projects that combine clinical trials, capacity buildingand networking activities. It works to strengthen scientific capacity forclinical trials and clinical researchin endemic countries (largely in sub-Saharan Africa) and by promoting collaboration between the medical sector,like-minded organisations, productdevelopment partners, research fundersand development cooperation agencies. You can read in more detail about the set-up of the EDCTP in the recently-published EDCTP in a nutshell.
Q: Now in its 11th year, what has EDCTP achieved and what’s ahead next for the partnership?
The first phase of EDCTP has been a success in many ways. Simply its establishment is an achievement in itself. As a result of the approximately 100 clinical trials supported through the EDCTP so far, it has succeeded in finding eight improved medical treatments. Additionally, it has improved research capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. One intangible achievement of the programme is to demonstrate the importance that EU policy-makers have placed on supporting investment into innovative global health activities.
What the last eleven years, and what the next programme hopes to achieve, is to demonstrate that investment in global health R&D can have a direct impact on the health of people living in low- and middle-income countries. New medical interventions – like, for example, vaccines for malaria and HIV and AIDS, or more effective and accessible contraceptives – can be utilised to lift a burden of diseases that stifles economic growth and prevents young men and women from reaching their full potential, physically, economically and socially.
Practically-speaking, for its second phase starting in 2014, EDCTP aims to be even more ambitious. The budget has been nearly tripled and a number of African countries graduated to full membership status, with equal powers in the EDTCP’s general assembly. Furthermore, the scope of EDCTP will expand to cover other neglected infectious diseases, as well as phase I and IV clinical trials. EDCTP 2 is expected to have an even stronger coordinating role of national research programs and to succeed in bringing together large funds also from third parties to run resource intensive phase III clinical trials.
Q: What are the most exciting results, news or outcomes that came out of this year’s forum?
The forum gathered 320 participants from 42 different countries. An overall majority of these participants were young and confident African researchers who presented the tremendous research they have conducted in EDCTP-funded projects in the past several years.
New interventions that have been incubated with the support of EDCTP were also showcased at the Forum. Among these scientific achievements were:
The identification of a new treatment regimen that may significantly shorten the duration of TB therapy
The successful phase II trial of an HIV vaccine in Kenya
And, the conduction of first studies of controlled human malaria infection (CHMI) in African Populations.
What these innovations show is that investment in global health R&D can have real and potentially immediate returns on donor and private sector investment – developing treatments that are needed now for young men and women living in some the world’s poorest countries.
The forum also succeeded in bringing together major funders of global health R&D such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the German Ministry for Research and Education and the Research Council of Norway. In the context of the partners’ session, DSW was delighted to have been given the opportunity to present its collaboration with EDCTP. DSW in its mission to support increased funding for research into HIV and AIDS, TB and malaria, has been a long standing advocate for EDCTP’s mission. As part of this support, we followed the formal session of the Forum with a dedicated roundtable event on the benefits of EDCTP in the German parliament.
Here, we stressed the importance of a so-called political “buy-in” to the EDCTP process, and the broader international fight against poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases. Hopefully, the German MPs in attendance left the meeting with a clear message to bring to their government colleagues: European governments need to step up their financial support and match the EU’s efforts in global health!