Two innovative projects for research and development of medicines and other health technologies from the Americas were selected in December by the Committee of World Experts in the World Health Organization (WHO). The chosen proposals include the development of a vaccine against schistosomiasis (Brazil, Oswaldo Cruz Institute) and a novel treatment for cutaneous leishmaniasis (US. FDA).

These proposals will be evaluated in January by the WHO Executive Board, along with other five representing other regions. This selection process is part of a global initiative that involves the six WHO regions and that will culminate in the selection of a limited number of "demonstration projects" to be presented during the World Health Assembly in 2014.

In May of 2013, the 66th World Health Assembly adopted a resolution that urges  WHO and its regional offices and Member States to identify gaps in research and development related to the development, manufacturing and distribution of products. It also establishes the need to identify projects that demonstrate innovative mechanisms of financing and coordination for research and development of medicines, diagnostic or other health technologies, with the ultimate goal of increasing access to these for the most vulnerable populations.

Representatives of the ministries of health of 19 countries of the Americas gathered on October at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) headquarters and selected four proposals according to their technical feasibility and scientific bases. Additionally, they assessed the projects on the basis of their proposed innovative financing and coordination mechanisms, which was expected to be framed within the recommendations of the Consultative Group of experts Group report on research and development: funding and coordination (CEWG), which urges countries to establish new mechanisms (and strengthen existing ones) to improve the research and development of health technologies to address the gaps in public health in low-income countries.

The call for proposals was open to all sectors, including representatives of civil society, the academic centers and research, the private sector and nongovernmental organizations of public health. There were 29 submissions for the region of the Americas. PAHO/WHO coordinated the process and the appeal, insofar as the Member States had the responsibility for selecting projects that will represent the region of the Americas according to very specific criteria.  

Selected projects from the Americas:

  • Development of a vaccine against schistosomiasis based on the recombinant SM14 a member of the fatty acid binding protein: controlling transmission of a disease of poverty
  • Development of a Class D CPG ODN (D35 as an adjunct to chemotherapy for cutaneous leishmaniasis and post Kala-Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL)