A new report by a coalition of global health groups says the United States is the world's top economic supporter of global health research and development. Not only is that a boost for the fight against disease, the report says, it's also good for the U.S. economy.
This project to develop a vaccine against tuberculosis is just one example of the kind of work the U.S government has been supporting.
Overall, in fact, the United States contributed $12.7 billion to global medical research between 2000 and 2010. The money went to help develop better drugs, vaccines and treatments. And advocates say that effort should continue.
“Nearly 45 products were licensed for use in the developing world and of those products U.S. government helped invest in over half,” said Kaitlin Christenson, director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition - a group made up of 40 private health organizations. The coalition and the independent research group Policy Cures put together the report on the impact of U.S. funding toward global health products.
Dr. Javier Guzman, the director of Policy Cures, said it's about more than just fighting disease in developing countries.
“This is also about the U.S. economy. The report shows that 64 cents out of every dollar is actually going to U.S. based researchers and developers, and that is creating a lot of jobs," said Guzman.
Health professionals say it also makes sense to fight diseases globally because infectious disease knows no boundaries. They say it is critical to continue the fight against deadly infections beyond America's borders.
Christenson said for the first time in many decades there now is a robust pipeline of new drugs and vaccines against killer diseases, such as malaria, meningitis, HIV and tuberculosis.
“We can expect great breakthroughs in various diseases area,” she said.
“It is about renewing their commitments about sustainable funding and about making the funding smarter to clearly get the benefits from the investments,” said Guzman.
Global Health experts say that any scaling back of investments might imperil many products now in development. And they say continued U.S. funding is key to the next generation of global health products.