21-25 November 2016, Madrid, Spain - "Why hasn’t there been more research on TB until very recently?" "Isn’t there enough money to address both global health issues such as TB and neglected tropical diseases?" These are only two examples of the many questions that pharmacology students raised during a weeklong workshop on Access to Medicines and Cooperation at the Complutense University of Madrid. The workshop was organized by the Spanish NGO Farmamundi.
In one of the sessions, the Stop TB Partnership presented the difference it can make in its role as a unique transversal program, not only keeping an eye on the clinical aspect, but also on the social, economic and political ones. The participating students were especially interested in the presentation on the Global Drug Facility (GDF) and in learning how pharmacology specialists and developers contribute to the End TB Strategy by ensuring access to new drugs to fight MDR-TB, such as Bedaquiline and Delamanid, for those who need them the most.
Dr Lucica Ditiu, Executive Director of the Stop TB Partnership, said, "It is important for up and coming researchers to understand that they hold the key to model the future of research. They will be the ones to develop the drugs that will cure us tomorrow."
During a session on the social impact of TB, Dr Consuelo Giménez, Coordinator of Cooperation and Development at the Biomedicine and Biotechnology Department of the University of Alcalá de Henares, zoomed in closer on structural challenges. She pointed out that research and development on the whole today doesn’t necessarily suffer from a lack of funds; we have the tools to facilitate the development of new medicines to treat a myriad of illnesses. The funds, however, do not always find their way to the right fields of research.
Fighting disease today requires the holistic approach that the Stop TB Partnership and its GDF advocate for. All too often, examples of crosscutting cooperation like these are overlooked in classrooms, but we must make sure that tomorrow’s researchers not only learn how to develop the medicines to fight a disease, but also how to take into account non-medical factors and how to navigate a complex international system. It’s not just about developing drugs, it’s about crafting long-term solutions to support health systems, societies and countries in assuring the right to a healthy life to all their citizens.