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Innovate or perish? Helping developing countries fight neglected diseases

For the health challenges facing developing countries, the numbers alone are staggering. Every day, 40,000 people --enough to fill a sports stadium -- die from preventable infectious diseases and malnutrition. Entire generations of human potential are perishing.

Given the scope of these challenges, is there a way for developing countries to solve health disparities and bootstrap these efforts into economic growth? In an article published recently in the journal Science, Biodesign Institute researchers Rich Mahoney and Anatole Krattiger, along with a large, international group of collaborators, have outlined new strategies to help developing countries address neglected diseases.

"Many developing countries are attempting to solve the health problems facing their own populations, and they are rapidly increasing investments in science and technology infrastructure," said Mahoney.

In addition to their research roles in the institute's Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, Mahoney and Krattiger also serve as advisors to the Rockefeller Foundation. The Foundation asked Mahoney to help organize an international meeting to address how disadvantaged countries could better foster scientific and technology innovation to directly impact health issues. Conducted in Bellagio, Italy in April, the meeting led to development of the Science article.

Participants concluded that the best approach for developing countries may be to pool their resources through "health innovation networks." By working together, the poorest countries stand a better chance of fostering innovation and building economic strength.

The recommended approach sets a top priority of developing public-private partnerships to address these needs. The group suggests that harmonized development in each of six sectors is essential to success in developing innovation systems: manufacturing, domestic markets, export markets, research and development (R&D), inte
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Contact: Joe Caspermeyer
joseph.caspermeyer@asu.edu
480-727-0369
Arizona State University
25-Oct-2005


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