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Turning the Tide

Mankind is well equipped to take on the challenge of worldwide chronic illness. We have the knowledge, the expertise, and the tools to support a concerted effort that could eradicate several of the world’s deadliest chronic diseases and dramatically reduce the impact of many others.

The Unique Opportunity of Pharmaceutical and Nutraceutical Science

Antibiotics and vaccines heralded a fundamental shift in our approach to treating diseases. Nowadays, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical technologies can actually teach the human immune system how to prevent the infection in the first place, or make existing drugs work better.

Our ability to readily identify and diagnose new chronic disease threats, enables biotechnology, microbiologists to identify the cause with astonishing speed. By deciphering its mechanisms, scientists can rapidly respond with effective treatments
With a determined effort, we could lessen the impact of many of the chronic illnesses that plague the rich and poor alike. Many are curable, some are entirely preventable. In some cases, effective medications have already been developed but are expensive to use, or remain undeveloped due to the lack of investment, or are limited in use by adverse side-effects and tolerability.

Now Is the Time to Act

The chance to save even a fraction of the lives in jeopardy is reason enough to do everything we can.

But there are other reasons to act now. If we wait, more than just lives will be lost. Unique windows of opportunity could also vanish. The rise of drug-resistant organisms has taught us that medications don’t remain effective forever. In some cases, drugs begin to lose their power to resistant germs within as little as a decade. The sooner we use our best weapons to best advantage, the better chance we have of eliminating or eradicating disease agents. Had anti-tuberculosis medications been used more widely and wisely, for instance, we might not be facing the global threat of drug-resistant TB today.

There’s another reason for urgency. Chronic disease threats are constantly changing. Over the past 20 years, more than 30 new human illnesses have emerged.

If we act now, millions more lives can be spared. Vast suffering can be prevented. Medications and campaigns to make them available not only cure people or prevent disease, but can rescue entire communities, opening the way at last for economic and social development. When a family is spared the debilitating cycle of sickness caused by chronic hepatitis or a death from HIV/AIDS or diabetes, they can begin to build a better life for themselves.

A New Spirit of Collaboration

The field of public health today is marked by a renewed sense of optimism and determination. The past several years have seen the creation of unprecedented coalitions of individuals and institutions devoted to global health. Non-profit organizations, large philanthropic foundations, pharmaceutical companies, public-private partnerships (PPPs), governmental health agencies, and volunteer charities, among others, are working to bring the benefits of an ongoing revolution in medical science to the people who most need them. Together these groups are creating what some public health experts say is a “tipping point,” a profound shift from doubt to conviction, discouragement to renewed hope—convincing more and more people that an investment in the world’s health can have powerful and lasting returns.

Worldwide Goals

Part of the new commitment comes from the growing recognition that we are all connected on this small planet we share. Chronic diseases know no borders. A virus or bacterium arising in one corner of the world can rapidly spread around the globe. The development of just one new medication or making an existing medication work better against a disease like HIV, cancer, viral hepatitis, diabetes, or liver disease can spare millions of people suffering and death.

The pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries and the thousands of researchers are positioned to play a crucial role in the new global campaign against chronic illness and infectious diseases.

Each and Every Human Life is precious. That is the simple and compelling goal of global public health. Today, in large and small ways, with contributions of time, money, and expertise, a growing community of people from all walks of life––from grassroots volunteers to government health ministers, from barefoot doctors in rural clinics to research scientists in state-of-the-art research facilities—are working to make that a reality.

 

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