Public Release: 

Report: Funding for neglected disease research hits record high

UK, Europe and India fuel increase; gaps remain

Global Health Strategies

Geneva, 23 January 2019 - Funding for neglected disease R&D in 2017 reached its highest level ever, exceeding US$3.5 billion. This is up 7% since 2016, driven primarily by new investments from the United Kingdom, European Commission, Germany and India.

This is according to the eleventh annual G-FINDER report. Launched today in Geneva, G-FINDER is the world's most comprehensive survey of R&D funding for neglected infectious diseases that disproportionately affect people in developing countries.

"It's exciting to see record-breaking support for research into these diseases, which prevent individuals from reaching their full potential and trap communities in cycles of poverty," said the report's lead author, Dr. Nick Chapman. "Thanks to sustained investment, 2018 alone brought new game-changing tools for debilitating diseases like sleeping sickness, river blindness and malaria. There are many more potentially transformative tools in the pipeline, which we can achieve with continued commitment."

Governments around the world step up

The public sector continued to be the most significant funding source for neglected disease research, contributing nearly two-thirds of the total. Significant new investments came from Europe, with the United Kingdom government scaling up its contribution by 89% ($87m) to $186m, the European Commission by 50% ($40m) to $119m, and the German government by 39% ($18m) to $65m.

Public funding from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) increased by 19% ($17m) to $105m, with India contributing nearly three-quarters of this total. The Indian government increased its contribution by 38% ($21m) to $76m, maintaining its position as the fourth-largest public funder globally, and providing the highest reported level of public funding from an LMIC government. Funding from the South African government also jumped 24% ($2.7m) to $14m.

The United States government held its spot as the world's largest public funder, providing an additional 1.5% ($23m) for a total of $1,595m. Several funders also strengthened their contributions for a second consecutive year, including the government of Japan and non-governmental organisations such as Unitaid, Médecins Sans Frontières and Gavi.

Largely thanks to new and increased government investment, the gap is narrowing between the two largest funders of neglected disease research - the United States government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - and the rest of the funding community.

The focus of the additional funding was on product development, with 90% of the new investment going to either core funding or clinical development to support products as they move through the final stages of the pipeline.

Despite progress, overall funding falls short

Despite funding reaching a record high, overall levels still fall well short of global targets. Not a single government met the World Health Organization recommendation that Member States dedicate at least 0.01% of their GDP to research the health needs of developing countries. The United States took the lead against this measure, meeting 82% of the target, and the United Kingdom followed with 71%. However, all other countries scored below 50% of the target.

Further, public and philanthropic funding for neglected disease research is still reliant on a handful of top funders. The top three public funders - the United States, the European Commission and the United Kingdom - jointly made up 82% of public funding. The largest single contributor, the United States National Institutes of Health, provided 39% of all global funding.

"The increase in funding for neglected disease research is good news," said David Baltimore, Nobel Laureate and President Emeritus at California Institute of Technology. "But, to realise the massive potential of science to improve the lives of the world's poorest, we will need strong funding for both basic research and new product development." Dr. Baltimore's lab is currently studying ways to protect against HIV infection.

###

The 2018 G-FINDER Report will be launched on Wednesday 23 January 2019 at Maison de la Paix, Geneva, Switzerland, at 10:30 AM (GMT). Tune into the livestream starting at 11:15 AM (GMT) here: youtu.be/4i3dSXKthSk.

For further information, or to request an embargoed copy of the report, please contact Guy Bloembergen at +1 401 440 8609 or gbloembergen@globalhealthstrategies.com.

The full G-FINDER report will be available from 23 January at http://www.policycuresresearch.org/g-finder.

ABOUT G-FINDER

G-FINDER, now in its eleventh year, is the most comprehensive report on global funding of R&D for neglected diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria, TB, sleeping sickness and helminth infections. The annual G-FINDER report is intended to help policy makers, funders and product developers better understand the global landscape for neglected disease R&D, where funding gaps exist, and how their investments fit into the global picture. The G-FINDER survey is conducted by the independent research group Policy Cures Research and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

ABOUT POLICY CURES RESEARCH

Policy Cures Research is an independent, not-for-profit global health think tank providing research, information, decision-making tools and strategic analysis for those involved in the creation of new health technologies for neglected diseases. Its focus is on providing governments, funders, researchers and civil society organisations with the information they need to make optimal R&D policy and funding decisions for diseases of the developing world.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.