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"AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria research will be an important priority for the EU in the scope of HORIZON 2020"

2012-11-05 - Informação à Imprensa

Today, Maria da Graça Carvalho delivered an address at the opening session of the high-level conference preparing the second European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership programme (EDCTP2), which takes place in Cape Town. The event was opened by HE Naledi Pandor and European Commissioner for Research Maire Geoghegan-Quinn.

Maria da Graça Carvalho participates in the EDCTP in the capacity of member of the ITRE Committee and rapporteur for the specific programme implementing Horizon 2020. She is also president of the Committee on Economic Development, Finance and Trade of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly

During her intervention Maria da Graça Carvalho said that "the present conference is of particular interest for the Parliament. This opportunity will contribute to learn about how we, in the European Union, might improve our contribution to the EDCTP - one that has been remarkably fruitful for all parties involved"

With regard to the achievements of the EDCTP, Maria da Graça Carvalho said that the EDCTP plays an exemplary role in European Union's international cooperation. The EDCTP has proven itself to be remarkably effective in improving medical intervention and the quality of the research designed to combat poverty-related diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

In the process, the African partners have retained a high degree of ownership and leadership: African experts coordinate more than half of the 57 clinical trials carried out and have been awarded three quarters of EDCTP funding.  Similarly, the initiative has helped train hundreds of African researchers and medical doctors through its fellowship programme and other training schemes. At the same time, EDCTP funding aims to foster clinical research in Africa in a sound ethical and regulatory environment.

Horizon 2020 provides for the renewal of the EU's financial commitment to EDCTP. To this end, the European EDCTP partner countries and the European Commission plan to invest at least EUR 0.5 billion each, while seeking additional pledges of a similar magnitude from foundations, charities, companies, NGOs and other countries. The aim is that the EDCTP2 programme raises an overall budget of around EUR 1.5 billion to fight poverty related and neglected infectious diseases in the years to come

Concerning the impact of H2020 on the EDCTP, Maria da Graça Carvalho underlined that "budgetary concerns inevitably remain of prime importance.  Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that there will be a substantial increase in the budget for research and innovation.  It is also to be hoped that the fact that health concerns have been granted the largest share of the budget devoted to societal challenges - and that poverty related diseases are a clearly recognised priority - will translate into continued, sustainable funding for EDCTP II". 

Ms. Carvalho also said that the new characteristics of H2020 - the fact that the programme covers the whole cycle of innovation, that a real effort has been made to simplify access to funding and that a central place has been given to scientific lead approaches - will mean that the work of EDCTP II will be significantly facilitated.  Simplification is particularly pertinent in a context in which it is necessary to bring together funding from a number of different budgets to deal with challenges that are often costly. 

To conclude Maria da Graça Carvalho expressed her "sincere hope that the crucial work carried out by the EDCTP - work that has real and tangible benefits for humanity as a whole - will continue in the future with even more resources, vigour and purpose".  

As Minister of Science, Innovation and Higher Education in Portugal, Maria da Graça Carvalho was directly involved in 2003 in the negotiations and in the approval in the Competitiveness Council of the EDCTP1.  

African and European Ministers, Michel Sidibé from UNAIDS, Trevor Mundel from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Jean Stephenne from GSK Biologicais and Sir John Savill from the British MRC discussed the opportunities and expectations of the EDCTP2 programme.