Medecins Sans Frontieres has urged wealthy nations to develop coordinated response plans and drugs to fight neglected diseases as the global health system is unable to handle another mass epidemic like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The absence of strong leadership, delayed international response and the lack of vaccines and treatments is the current situation in many of today’s health emergencies and are not confined to the condition of Ebola, the medical charity said.
“If a global pandemic were to strike tomorrow, there is still no well-resourced, coordinated international response in place to kick in,” Joanne Liu, the international president of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), said in a statement on Wednesday.
More than 11,000 people were killed when the Ebola epidemic was detected in Guinea more than a year ago, and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. A spike in new cases in Guinea has stroked concerns that the virus could spread again though Liberia was recently declared Ebola free.
To avert the risk of losing thousands more lives to a new health emergency, Liu urged the leaders of an upcoming G7 meeting to take action to close the “gaping hole in our global health system”.
Very little funding goes into the development of new drugs too was said and vaccines for neglected diseases, or those that have proven resistant to available treatments.
Moreover, many of these medicines are priced out of reach, the charity said.
“Millions of people suffer from diseases for which there are no effective drugs or vaccines, because they don’t represent a lucrative market for the pharmaceutical industry,” said MSF’s Philipp Frisch.
According to MSF drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) is one of the health emergencies for which new drugs, vaccines and diagnostics are urgently needed.
“Wealthy, developed countries must take urgent action against the market failure in the pharmaceutical research and development,” Frisch said