NIH Announces Plan to Combat ‘Deadly Troika’ of HIV, Malaria, TB
In a meeting Monday with international infectious disease specialists, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, announced the agency's new "global plan" to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in developing countries. The "NIAID Global Health Research Plan for HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis" outlines "short-, mid- and long-term objectives" in the fight against this "deadly troika," according to an NIH release. The plan concentrates on four "key" research areas: vaccine and prevention studies, drug development, diagnostic improvement and "enhancements" to research capabilities. Vaccine research and development remains the plan's "top priority." The NIAID plan also includes "multiple goals" for improving and expanding research facilities in developing areas and training local doctors and researchers to "better provide for the needs of their communities" (NIH release, 5/7). The document is a "living plan" that can expand to include other diseases as developments occur (Manning, USA Today, 5/8).
What Can Be Done?
The three diseases annually account for more than 5 million deaths and "greatly affect" the health of nearly half a billion more people every year, Fauci said. But currently there are no vaccines for HIV or malaria, and the TB vaccine does not prevent adult lung disease, which develops in nearly eight million people a year. Research institutes like NIAID "must develop comprehensive plans that bring international scientists together to launch a multi-pronged attack" on the diseases, Fauci added. New drugs are also needed to treat the diseases, especially in light of the development of new "drug-resistant microbe strains" and the "toxic" side effects of some of the current drugs. Better diagnostic tools will allow for "more rapid and accurate" identification of the diseases, enabling doctors to "administer effective treatment more quickly" (NIH release, 5/7). Fauci cited as a model a malaria research center in Mali, where "the local community is intensively involved in decision-making, the infrastructure is developed and we're training a new generation of scientists who will give it sustainability." Fauci also said that "multidisciplinary research programs" are needed as part of the "scientific basis for a global health research plan in the 21st century," especially now that "global health has ... integrated itself into this nation's foreign policy." On Monday, NIAID officially opened its Malaria Vaccine Development Unit, dedicated to finding an "effective vaccine within the next five to 10 years (USA Today, 5/8). To view the plan, click here. To read the World Health Organization's G8 summit background fact sheet on the three diseases, click here.