KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — Malaysian Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has joined a coalition of global scientists in their efforts to respond to COVID-19 pandemic in resource-poor settings.
Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) in a statement today said Dr Noor Hisham was one of the 74 signatories for the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition which aims to accelerate desperately needed COVID-19 research in those areas.
Apart from scientists, the group comprises physicians, funders, and policymakers from over 70 institutions from over 30 countries, all committed to finding COVID-19 solutions for resource-poor settings where the virus could wreak havoc on already-fragile health systems and cause the greatest health impact on vulnerable populations.
Among other prominent signatories are the Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Harvard Medical School, USA, Paul Farmer; Director-General of the Institut Pasteur, France, Stewart Cole; and Senior Scientist at the University of Oxford, Philippe J Guerin.
According to the statement, in an comment published today in an international journal, The Lancet, the members of the coalition argued that international research collaboration and coordination was needed urgently to support African, Latin American, Eastern European, and certain Asian countries to respond effectively to the worsening pandemic and speed up research adapted to resource-limited settings.
In the comment, the authors stated that they found that out of almost 600 COVID-19 clinical trials registered, very few trials are planned in resource-poor settings, even though the World Health Organization (WHO)-led SOLIDARITY trial had been launched.
Thus the authors commit to sharing their technical expertise and clinical trial capability to accelerate COVID-19 research in those settings. according to the statement.
DNDi said the coalition will facilitate a coordinated approach so that all data from all regions can be collected in a similar fashion, pooled and shared in real-time which would help countries and the WHO to make rapid evidence-based decisions on policies and practices.
The statement stated that WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan also applauded the coalition’s initiative which would help the WHO in its coordinating role in the global response to COVID-19.
“We welcome the launch of this coalition, which takes advantage of existing multinational and multidisciplinary expertise in running clinical trials in resource-poor settings.
“Although the epicenter is today elsewhere, we must prepare now for the consequences of this pandemic in more resource-constrained settings or we stand to lose many more lives,” the statement quoted.
Members of the coalition also called for specific commitments to ensure access, so that effective new treatments are made available as soon as possible in resource-poor settings and are affordable and readily accessible.