EU fights Disease and Poverty   Nov 01

What does the EU do for anyone except pass new regulations? I am often asked this when I am in the constituency.

 It is tragic that 5m people a year in developing countries die of communicable diseases. In Africa alone, about 20,000 people die each day. The three biggest killers are HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria. A few years ago malaria and tuberculosis seemed close to being eliminated worldwide. Sadly, they are spreading today. Millions die although it costs only £10 per patient to treat these diseases. AIDS currently afflicts 35m people and most die as they cannot afford the treatment.

These diseases seriously disable large working populations thereby damaging social and economic development of poor countries. Families of victims suffer social stigma and bear the financial burden of treatment. The real tragedy is that the poor know that treatment is available if only help was!  

Bashir Khanbhai´s Report on communicable diseases was approved in the European Parliament. Mr.Khanbhai, my Conservative colleague, is a pharmacist with experience of manufacturing pharmaceuticals. His Report includes specific innovative recommendations:-

1. establishment of a global fund to combat these diseases

2. accelerated action for research and development of drugs with shorter dosage regimes and vaccines for treatment and prevention

3. comprehensive effort to improve health infrastructure to provide day care centres where trained technicians can scan, diagnose and monitor treatment of patients

4.  possible ways of encouraging local manufacture of key drugs and the provision of lower prices (tiered pricing) of pharmaceuticals for developing countries so that the poorest can afford treatment.

Fighting these diseases globally does not attract much publicity. A global effort, like the supply of polio vaccine, can treat killer diseases and reduce poverty. Such a Report confirms my view that the EU can produce sensible legislation.