Research and Development in Global Health

Health is a human right, yet billions worldwide continue to face barriers to accessing the services they need to achieve a healthy and fulfilling life. In Africa, poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs), including HIV & AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), malaria and a range of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) exact a particularly heavy toll, with women and girls and people in marginalised situations disproportionately affected. While PRNDs impose a morally unacceptable health and socioeconomic burden on individuals and societies, investment in research, development, and innovation (R&D) in this area does not match the scale of the problem, resulting in many missing or inadequate and even unsafe tools to prevent, diagnose and treat these diseases.

Young people are vulnerable to PRNDs, with young women and girls particularly at risk. Every week, over 3000 adolescent girls and young women aged 15–24 years become infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. PRNDs can trap children and young people in a vicious cycle of poverty, interfering with child growth and cognitive development; and preventing them from going to school and reaching their potential.

Often chronic, PRNDs can result in lifelong disabilities and deformities, causing stigmatisation and social exclusion. Despite the impact of PRNDs on young people, they are rarely specified as a target population for the control of these diseases, including in the development of new and improved medical tools. Take a look at our video to learn more about the changes that could help make a difference.

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What are PRNDs? 

PRNDs stands for poverty-related and neglected diseases and refer to a group of diseases that all face disproportionately low R&D

funding relative to their burden. The group includes;

  • Parasitic diseases such as hookworm, malaria and Chagas disease
  • Viruses like HIV, Dengue and Chikungunya
  • Bacterial infections such as tuberculosis and leprosy
  • Diseases caused by toxins, such as snakebite envenoming
  • Fungal infections such as chromoblastomycosis and eumycetoma

Further information in our position paper:

The result of neglect – some examples

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An introduction to the topic

Watch the video for an introduction to some of the changes needed to make research and innovation more gender-responsive.

What we do

Our advocacy work on
global health R&D

DSW’s advocacy to strengthen support for research and innovation in neglected areas of global health focuses on deepening investments in long-term, equitable and strategic collaborations between Europe and Africa. Looking across the product development pathway for PRNDs, from building public health institutions and clinical trials capacity to strengthening manufacturing and regulatory capacities of medical countermeasures in low- and middle-income countries with a focus on Africa, DSW applies an end-to-end approach to advocate for lasting solutions to bridge the gaps in global health research and innovation.

Gender equality in global health
DSW has long advocated for increased awareness of how PRNDs impact women and girls differently – beyond the differences in prevalence. Our PRNDs Through a Gender Lens Study informs our advocacy work on gender-inclusive research and innovation, which is expanding to include broader health areas that differently, uniquely or disproportionately impact women and girls. In line with our work promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights, we’re working to mobilise more support for research and innovation on new and improved contraceptive technologies, as the unmet need for safe and reliable contraception remains a huge challenge. From infectious disease to reproductive health and beyond, we are working with our partners and policymakers to bring our expertise on gender-responsive research and innovation to the evolving discussions on the importance of investing in women’s health.

Our office
in Berlin

Our office
in Brussels

Key Publications

Making a case for a priority review voucher programme in the EU

Incentivising product development for neglected infectious diseases

How fighting diseases of poverty

Strengthening health systems is the best way to safeguard against health crises.

EU-Africa cooperation on epidemic preparedness and health security

Success stories and lessons learned from covid-19

Young people and poverty-related and neglected diseases

Yves Lafort. Young people and poverty-related and neglected diseases. Brussels, November 2017.


A global R&I partnership for epidemic preparedness and response

Going further together

The case for European Union partnership with Africa on regulatory harmonization

Global Health R&D Newsletter

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