Relative and absolute addressability of global disease burden in maternal and perinatal health by investment in R&D

Fisk, NM; McKee, M; Atun, R; (2011) Relative and absolute addressability of global disease burden in maternal and perinatal health by investment in R&D. Tropical medicine & international health, 16 (6). pp. 662-8. ISSN 1360-2276 DOI:

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Maternal and perinatal disease accounts for nearly 10% of the global burden of disease, with only modest progress towards achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Despite a favourable new global health landscape in research and development (R&D) to produce new drugs for neglected diseases, R&D investment in maternal/perinatal health remains small and non-strategic. Investment in obstetric R&D by industry or the not-for-profit sector has lagged behind other specialties, with the number of registered pipeline drugs only 1-5% that for other major disease areas. Using a Delphi exercise with maternal/perinatal experts in global and translational research, we estimate that equitable pharmaceutical R&D and public sector research funding over the next 10-20?years could avert 1.1% and 1.9% of the global disease burden, respectively. In contrast, optimal uptake of existing research would prevent 3.0%, justifying the current focus on health service provision. Although R&D predominantly occurs in high-income countries, more than 98% of the estimated reduction in disease burden in this field would be in developing countries. We conclude that better pharmaceutical and public sector R&D would prevent around 1/3 and 2/3, respectively, of the disease burden addressable by optimal uptake of existing research. Strengthening R&D may be an important complementary strategy to health service provision to address global maternal and perinatal disease burden.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Health Services Research and Policy
Research Centre: ECOHOST - The Centre for Health and Social Change
Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs)
PubMed ID: 21470349
Web of Science ID: 290456100002


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