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Thursday, 22 September 2011
Page: 11221

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (13:52): Today I had the pleasure of hosting with the member for Moore, Dr Mal Washer, a seminar on the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, DNDI, relating to non-profit drug research and development.

We know that each year millions of people in developing countries die from preventable and treatable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and lesser-known diseases such as sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas. In fact these are poverty-related deaths. The central problem is a lack of effective drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to identify, prevent and treat infectious diseases. Unfortunately, most R&D funding is for diseases found predominantly in developed countries. Only 10 per cent of the world's health research spending is on diseases that account for 90 per cent of the global health burden.

Our speakers—Dr Rowan Gillies from Medecins Sans Frontieres, Dr Mary Moran of the research group Policy Cures, Andrea Lucard from Medicines for Malaria Venture and Dr Wayne Best of Epichem—explained how public-private product development partnerships are enabling the development and delivery of new, affordable drugs for neglected diseases. This has led to a decrease in malaria by 20 per cent in Africa in the past decade and to almost eradication of meningitis within the African meningitis belt. A PDP Chagas consortium between Epichem, Murdoch and Monash universities and the DNDI has developed a compound that has cured the parasitic Chagas disease in mice and it will soon be trialled on people, promising profound benefits for millions of people in Central and South America. This is a good-news story about how Australia can leverage its world-class infectious and tropical disease R&D expertise in support of its development aid objectives.