Commissioner Busquin presents clinical trials programme to African Health Ministers

September 2, 2003

Brussels, 1 September 2003

At the WHO conference in Johannesburg on 1 September, European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin will present the Europe-Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) to the Ministers for Health of 46 African States. EDCTP aims to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis with a €600 million budget to which the European Union has already committed one third. Launched 2 years ago by European and African scientists, it is a unique initiative based on close partnership between African and European countries. In Johannesburg, Commissioner Busquin will encourage African governments to mobilise around this important initiative by making it a component of their national priorities and in particular by facilitating training and supporting the careers of African medical and pharmaceutical professionals, in an effort to build research capacity and avoid brain drain.

Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: "The €600 million research programme we are launching is a unique opportunity for African and European researchers, from academia, the public sector and industry, to join hands in fighting the world's worst epidemics and demonstrate real solidarity towards the populations that need it most."

Clinical Trials Programme: fighting disease through international partnership

The European Commission is supporting a long-term partnership between Europe and developing countries by providing €200 million for the development of new medicines and vaccines against HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, while EU Member States will contribute at least another €200 million. The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) was launched in April 2002 as a flagship initiative within the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme. It brings together the EU Member States plus Norway, developing countries, the private sector including the pharmaceutical industry and international foundations, in a joint effort to combat these three poverty-linked diseases by facilitating and accelerating clinical trials for drugs and vaccines. 90% of deaths from these three diseases are in Africa. Consequently, the clinical trials programme is initially targeting this continent as its top priority.

Recognising that funding research alone is not sufficient to tackle these diseases, the European Commission has initiated an ambitious programme that depends on a vastly increased level of collaboration among European countries, among developing countries, between North and South and with the pharmaceutical industry.

The programme aims to develop new interventions that are appropriate for the African population by doing clinical research in Africa, where African scientists play a crucial role. In opening the European Research Area to the world, all projects are accessible to researchers from developing countries. It further requires focussing development aid on the fight against poverty, through substantial investment in research and training, and by sharing expertise, infrastructures and results.

Research in action

Commissioner Busquin will meet African leaders, see European and African researchers and clinicians working together, as well as participants in the surveys and the local communities.

In Tanzania, on 29 and 30 August, the Commissioner will meet Mrs Anna Abdallah, Minister for Health of Tanzania and visit a research site in Mbeya focussing on HIV/AIDS. The overall HIV prevalence among young women living in an urban areas (age 18 24) is 17.9% and in women living in a rural areas 8.6%.

In Mozambique on 31 August, the Commissioner will meet Prime-Minister P. Mocumbi and visit a site near Maputo dealing with all three diseases, but with particular emphasis on malaria. In Mozambique malaria is still the cause of 56% of deaths among children under 5.

In South Africa on 1 September, the Commissioner will attend the WHO regional meeting in Johannesburg where he will present EDCTP to the African Health Ministers.

For further media information:

Visit the EDCTP web site:

DN: IP/03/1191 Date: 01/09/2003

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