The resource can be used to guide the development of health products, WHO says.

WHO rolls out free health product directory

By Nathan Eddy
09:32 AM

The World Health Organization announced the launch of the Health Product Profile Directory, a resource to help promote research and development for products to combat neglected diseases and threats to global health.

WHY IT MATTERS

This includes antimicrobial resistance and diseases with pandemic potential, and the resource will also serve to guide the development of health products for which there are limited markets or incentives for research and development.

The free-to-use online resource, created and developed by TDR, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases, provides a searchable database of profiles for health products needed to tackle pressing health issues in global health including those prioritized by WHO.

The Directory currently contains 196 product profiles developed by 24 agencies, of which 191 describe a product with an infectious disease as the target, with the top four diseases with product profiles listed as tuberculosis, malaria, HIV and Chagas.

While the Directory has been launched with a focus on infectious diseases, the WHO plans to update and grow the content, as well as invite submissions of product profiles in other priority areas such as non-communicable diseases and antimicrobial resistance.

ON THE RECORD

“As the first global public good launched by WHO’s new Science Division, the Directory exemplifies our effort to shape the global health research agenda to achieve health for all,” WHO chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan said in a statement.

The Directory includes profiles developed by WHO and other agencies, which can be accessed through the organizations Global Observatory on health R&D, where other key resources to analyze R&D can be found.

So far the Directory contains just five product profiles for conditions other than infectious diseases--one vaccine for breast cancer and four contraception technologies.

“In an R&D landscape which is increasingly complicated to navigate, we welcome this directory, which will help us ensure that new malaria products that are developed are able to be accessed and used by the populations that need them,” David Reddy, CEO of Medicines for Malaria Venture, said in a statement.

WHAT ELSE TO KNOW

A February report from the WHO found that each year, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent on research and development (R&D) into new or improved health products and processes, ranging from medicines to vaccines to diagnostics.

However, the report also noted the way these funds are distributed and spent is often poorly aligned with global public health needs.

The announcement of the directory comes in the wake of recent, wide-ranging reforms at the WHO, which included the creation of a new Science Division led by Dr Swaminathan.

The division was established to ensure the WHO anticipates and stays on top of the latest scientific developments to better identify opportunities to improve global health, and ensure the standard of WHO’s core technical functions, including norms and standards and research.

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Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.

Email the writer: nathaneddy@gmail.com

Twitter: @dropdeaded209 

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.