Mudcat Café message #1517310 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #82734   Message #1517310
Posted By: JohnInKansas
07-Jul-05 - 04:24 PM
Thread Name: BS: How to aid Africa?
Subject: RE: BS: How to aid Africa?
One of the problems with giving useful aid to those who need it most is the purely commercial problem that developing and undeveloped countries don't need the same things that are profitable in developed countries. Diseases that could be controlled with vaccines and/or treatments, that kill many people in poorer nations, simply are not common enough in developed countries (where there is a profitable market) to induce pharmaceutical companies to work on treatments and/or vaccines.

From a Technology Review recent article:

… the vaccine story usually went like this:

A drug company would develop a vaccine for a European country or the United States. It would charge a relatively high price for about 15 years. then, once it had made a profit, and the medicine had gone off patent. it would introduce the vaccine at a lower price to poor countries.
The trouble with this model is not just that 15 years is a long time to wait; it's also that certain diseases are much more dangerous in poor countries than in rich ones.

getting vaccines where they are needed most requires giving companies … financial incentives. The emergence ofwhat can be thought. of as a superbuyer for vaccines—the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immuluzation (GAVI)—may help create those incentives.

GAVI, which was founded five years ago, thanks largely to $750 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Founiation. In 2005, GAVI named rotavirus a top priority, and this January, the Gates Foundation pledged another $750 million to it over the next 10 years. GAVI's Vaccine Fund serves countries whose per-capita gross national income is less than $1,000. Though the fund will not directly benefit Mexico, whose average income levels are too high. it is poised to help fund vaccination in scores of countries. GAVI's buying power helped convince [GlaxoSmithKline] GSK to forgo the traditional road to vaccine development.

The GSK effort cited above is the development of a vaccine for rotavirus that was introduced in Mexico in January. The vaccine, Rotarix, "was the first vaccine from a major pharmaceutical firm to debut not in the United States or Europe but in a poor country."

Rotavirus, which induces diarrhea, is one such disease. Although almost every child is exposed to it by the age of five, its horror is not universal. In the United States. it kills between 20 and 40 children per year; in the rest of the world, it. kills an estimated half-million children (about 1,000 in Mexico alone).

Quite a bit of the information on how the GAVI is set up was given in sidebars and summary bits that don't seem to get posted, but the main article can be seen at The Vaccine That Almost Wasn't By Jim Kling Technology Review June 2005

It sounds like a sensible approach to me…