WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Nanotechnology has the potential to generate enormous health benefits for the more than five billion people living in the developing world," according to Dr. Peter A. Singer, senior scientist at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health and Professor of Medicine at University of Toronto. "Nanotechnology might provide less-industrialized countries with powerful new tools for diagnosing and treating disease, and might increase the availability of clean water."
"But it remains to be seen whether novel applications of nanotechnology will deliver on their promise. A fundamental problem is that people are not engaged and are not talking to each other. Business has little incentiveas shown by the lack of new drugs for malaria, dengue fever and other diseases that disproportionately affect people in developing countriesto invest in the appropriate nanotechnology research targeted at the developing world. Government foreign assistance agencies do not often focus, or focus adequately, on science and technology. With scant public awareness of nanotechnology in any country, there are few efforts by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and community groups to examine how nanotechnology could be directed toward, for example, improving public health in the developing world."
Dr. Singers group in Toronto published a study in 2005 identifying and ranking the ten nanotechnologies most likely to benefit the developing world in the near future. Nanotechnology applications related to energy storage, production, and conversion; agricultural productivity enhancement; water treatment and remediation; and diagnosis and treatment of diseases topped the list. Dr. Singers group has also shown that there is a surprising amount of nanotechnology R&D activity in several developing countries, and that these nations are directing their nanotechnology innovation systems to address their more pressing needs.