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U.K. Infectious Disease Research Funding Disproportionate When Compared To Disease Impact, Study Shows

In a paper published online in the Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers from the University College London (UCL), Imperial College London, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine show that U.K. funding for studies into infectious diseases is lower for diseases that result in the highest rates of death and disability, the Adfero News Agency/Zenopa reports (11/7). “[T]he first ever detailed assessment of infectious diseases investments made by funding organizations to U.K. institutions,” the study “shows that gastrointestinal infections, antimicrobial resistance, and some neglected tropical diseases such as trachoma, the commonest infectious cause of blindness globally, receive particularly low levels of investment from U.K. funders, relative to the disability and death that they cause,” according to a UCL press release.

The study examined U.K. investments in infectious diseases between 1997 and 2010, except for investments made by the pharmaceutical industry, and noted “HIV, blood infections (such as malaria), and respiratory infections (such as tuberculosis) received the highest proportion of funding overall, with these three areas together receiving almost half (49.4 percent) of the total money invested in infectious diseases research during this period,” the press release states, adding the study’s lead author, Michael Head of UCL Infection and Population Health, said, “The investments in research for these diseases must be allocated appropriately. Our data can help inform the decisions behind the allocations of funding and provide evidence for possible areas of under-investment that warrant further attention” (11/8). In an accompanying commentary, Yiannis Kyratsis and Raheelah Ahmad of Imperial College London wrote, “Policymakers need to be equipped with research knowledge about health inequalities within disease areas rather than addressing competing demands between diseases. … We particularly encourage further analysis that uses the cross-cutting theme of inequalities to analyze research investment” (11/8).