With tuberculosis (TB) killing 1.7 million people and newly infecting nine million each year, this curable disease is far from being curbed. The HIV/AIDS pandemic exacerbates TB's scourge through co-infection, as does the increasing emergence of drug-resistant TB. The standard TB treatment available today is long and complex. It relies on drugs developed over forty years ago and takes six months for patients to complete, and the last four decades have brought nothing in the way of improvement.
Human African Trypanosomiasis, also known as African Sleeping Sickness, is a fatal and much neglected disease that continues to plague parts of Africa. The drug most commonly used to treat the disease is so toxic that it kills one in 20 patients. While a better drug exists, it is too complex to use in resource-poor settings. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), sleeping sickness has made a disturbing comeback over the past few decades.
Caring for children with HIV/AIDS is charged with obstacles. The struggle begins with doctors not being able to tell whether antibodies found in a small baby's blood are from the mother or whether they suggest the child itself is infected with the virus. Frustrated with the situation, MSF has been cooperating with scientists working on a new technology.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has vividly brought to the world's attention the fact that an increasing percentage of the world's population lives without access to essential medicines. The access crisis is twofold — on the one hand, crucially needed diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines that safely and efficiently respond to diseases affecting the world's poorest do not exist; and on the other, patients living in poverty cannot afford their own treatment, as those medicines that do exist are priced beyond their reach.
The current medical research and development (R&D) system, which relies on patents to stimulate innovation, does not foster the necessary research to address the needs of billions of people in developing countries. This is because the R&D system provides greater rewards for developing drugs that sell well, rather than drugs that meet unaddressed health needs.
Over the last twelve months, more than 100,000 people have been displaced from their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Katanga province as a result of fighting between the Congolese army, known as the FARDC, and the so-called Mai-Mai militia.