Africa Could Miss Out on Rewards of Genome Research Without More Funding To Study HIV, Malaria, TB, Scientists Say
Scientists meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on Monday at the start of a four-day conference -- titled "A Time To Heal: Cracking Africa's Killer Diseases" and sponsored by the Africa Genome Education Institute -- "warned" that Africa could "lose out" on the benefits of genome research without enough funding to aid further study, especially into diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Although researchers worldwide have made "notable progress" in mapping human genetic variations, less funding has been directed toward research on malaria and tuberculosis, which have "ravaged much of the population in Africa for decades," the more than 100 scientists at the conference said in a statement, according to AFP/Yahoo! News. "Genome sequencing can help us solve the problems of HIV, malaria and tuberculosis -- Africa's three killer diseases," the statement said, adding, "Although public research funding has considerations other than profit maximization, it is nevertheless the case that pneumonia, diarrhea, tuberculosis and malaria -- which together account for more than 20% of the disease burden of the world -- receive less than 1% of the total public and private funds devoted to health research" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 3/21). HIV/AIDS "took center stage" during the first day of the conference, and although experts had differing opinions on how to fight the disease, they agreed that African nations need to "invest more in science and technology," SABC News reports (SABC News, 3/22). The scientists added, "The aim is [to] see how we can reduce the time scale of delivery in what fundamentally remains a problem of science and to concentrate the collective mind on a single momentous effort that makes a genuine difference" (Green, Reuters, 3/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.