Despite the problem being flagged up in the late 1980s by the World Health Organization’s Commission on Health Research for Development, even today research and development activities in the field of health focus mainly on diseases affecting the peoples of the rich countries. This in part explains why, as Jean-Paul Moatti and Jean-François Delfraissy point out here, “more than a billion human beings, almost all of whom live in tropical and subtropical regions, are currently suffering from one or more neglected diseases”.
The authors do, however, see some minor development. Because of globalization, which increases the risk of pandemics, the rich countries are realizing that “their” health also depends on better protection for the whole of the world’s population. This new awareness underlay the drafting of the Millennium Objectives for Development in 2000, in which the international community committed itself, among other things, to redoubling its efforts to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
However, Moatti and Delfraissy stress that these efforts are still insufficient. It is, in their view, necessary to go further today, for example, by strengthening multilateral instruments like the WHO or by increasing the number of North-South partnerships. As they see it, it is urgent for research at last to be regarded as a “global public good”.