Tropical disease research

43rd World Health Assembly (May 1990)

The Forty-third World Health Assembly,

Recalling resolutions WHA30.42, EB71.R10 and EB77.R4;

Noting the report of the Director-General on the UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases;

Appreciating the accomplishments of the Special Programme to date in the development and testing of a number of important new disease control tools, many of which are already in operational use, as well as the innovative and pioneering approaches taken in strengthening research capability in developing countries where tropical diseases are endemic;

Recognizing, however, that the target diseases of the Special Programme (malaria, schistosomiasis, filariasis (including onchocerciasis), African trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis and leprosy) continue to be major public health problems in many tropical countries, especially in the least developed countries, not only in rural areas but also, increasingly, in urban areas;

Aware that in some of these countries, notwithstanding the efforts that have been made, tropical diseases and especially malaria have continued to escalate, to the extent that malaria is once again one of the leading causes of morbidity;

Aware that during the next decade further challenges need to be addressed with respect to:

  • translating current advances in basic biomedical research into practical disease control tools, such as recombinant and synthetic vaccines;
  • increasing the commitment of the pharmaceutical industry to the development of new drugs and vaccines for tropical diseases;
  • identifying strategies for preventing the most serious consequences of these diseases, such as childhood mortality from malaria;
  • promoting applied research in economics and social sciences to identify the most cost-effective methods of utilizing new tools;
  • strengthening field and operational research in the least developed countries in a sustainable manner;
    • ENDORSES the thrusts and priorities of the Special Programme as adopted by the Joint Coordinating Board, which focus on: intensified strategies for the development of products in selected areas, such as new drugs for malaria, vaccines for leishmaniasis, malaria and schistosomiasis, and a macrofilaricide for filariasis; the implementation of new vector control methods for Chagas disease; operational research aimed at optimizing multidrug therapy for leprosy; and the use of specific projects and research results as a basis for research capability strengthening;
    • THANKS the international community, multilateral and bilateral agencies, nongovernmental organizations, foundations and companies for their support to the Special Programme, and in particular UNDP and the World Bank, the co-sponsors of the Programme, and the research institutions and scientists throughout the world who contribute their talents and skills for the achievement of the Programme's objectives;
    • APPEALS to the pharmaceutical industry to increase research and development in tropical diseases and to intensify its collaboration with the Special Programme in the development of new and more effective tropical disease control tools and in ensuring that these tools are accessible and affordable for the populations affected;
    • REQUESTS multilateral and bilateral agencies to place greater emphasis on the provision of assistance both for research and for control of tropical diseases in endemic countries;
    • ENCOURAGES biomedical and social science research institutions to devote greater attention to tropical diseases and to establish appropriate links among themselves and with tropical disease control programmes in endemic countries;
    • WELCOMES the Director-General's decision to integrate WHO's various programmes for the control of tropical diseases;
    • URGES those Member States in which tropical diseases are endemic to intensify their efforts to control them by making full use of newly-developed technology and developing targeted national control strategies, especially for the diseases for which affordable and effective tools are now available;
    • REQUESTS the Director-General to ensure the continuation of the Special Programme's global leadership role in tropical disease research by:
      • strengthening collaborative efforts in academic and industrial research and in disease control activities;
      • fostering further the commitment of endemic countries to research;
      • mobilizing additional contributions to the Special Programme, in collaboration with UNDP and the World Bank, the co-sponsoring agencies, to enable the Programme to achieve its objectives more rapidly.

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