Cutting-edge science at Amsterdam meeting on infectious diseases

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Headlines from Fifth European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health

Contact: Martin Boeree, +31 6 10 29 26 38, m.boeree@ulc.umcn.nl 

Amsterdam, The Netherlands - What is being done to address the crisis in human resources for health and the devastation of poverty-related diseases in developing countries, and how can the world's poorest people obtain better access to healthcare? How can we help countries prevent the deaths of more than two million children killed every year by diseases that can be easily prevented by vaccination? What are the latest findings of scientists working in the laboratory to understand diseases such as TB, HIV, malaria, leprosy, avian flu, and dengue? How can more women's lives be saved in poor nations, where one out of every ten women dies in childbirth? These questions, amongst many others, will be addressed during the Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health held in Amsterdam this week, from 24 - 28 May 2007.

The conference organizers note that 90 percent of the available sources in the world are spent treating ten percent of the world's diseases, those that affect the wealthiest nations. World-renowned scientists and political leaders at the Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health will address the burden of poverty-related diseases such as TB, malaria, AIDS and vaccine-preventable child diseases, and call for solutions.

In recognition of the Dutch government's commitment to drastically improve health and alleviate poverty in developing countries, the congress on tropical medicine is being held in Amsterdam to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Dutch Society for Tropical Medicine and International Health (NVTG).

The conference theme is "Partnership and Innovation in Global Health" and was chosen to highlight the need for ongoing collaboration in order to improve the quality of global health, and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

What: Fifth European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health http://www.trop-amsterdam2007.com/ 

When: 24-28 May 2007

Where: Amsterdam RAI, Europaplein 22, NL-1078 GZ Amsterdam, Postbus 77777, NL-1070 MS Amsterdam

Media: The Media Center is located in the Committee Room 2 on the ground floor. All media representatives are asked to first register and pick up their name badge at the registration desks in the Main Hall and then to proceed to the Media Center. A participant registered as a media representative is entitled to admission to all official conference sessions, the exhibition and poster area, the opening ceremony and the welcome reception.

To register as a media representative for the conference, proof of accreditation is required. Please send a photocopy of official press credentials to registration@trop-amsterdam2007.com.

Highlights from the meeting will include:

  • Successful model for development aid: Keynote speaker Dr. Rosamund Lewis, with the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization), will discuss innovation through partnership in making vaccines more accessible for developing countries and report on the role of the GAVI Alliance in sparking a dramatic turnaround in immunization rates in the poorest nations. Dr. Lewis will detail the continuing need for support for immunization, highlighting new vaccines for rotavirus and pneumococcal disease and the challenges faced in introducing them in the countries where they are most needed.
  • Access to care: Presenters will address the problem of deficient access to care for illegal immigrants, especially women, largely due to financial restraints. They will discuss solutions such as issuing micro-credits as a stepping-stone towards obtaining health insurance. In addition, the congress will offer several sessions to address the problem of the human resource crisis (a shortage of qualified doctors and nurses in poor countries) and solutions for the brain drain from developing countries to the developed world.
  • Against the backdrop of an ongoing debate on how best to address neglected diseases such as visceral leishmaniasis, a deadly parasitic disease; human African trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, and Chagas disease, Dr. Jorge Alvar with the World Health Organization will discuss two recently announced essential drugs for the parasitic disease, Leishmaniasis, and describe successful efforts to make the drugs affordable for use in developing countries.
  • Pascoal Manuel Mocumbi, former Prime Minister of Mozambique (1994 to 2004) will present the international policy agenda on tropical diseases and poverty-related diseases, drawing on his expertise as a medical doctor and his experience as minister of health for that country and with WHO.
  • Andy Haines, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, will discuss how international health systems contribute to disease control drawing on his expertise as chair of a WHO taskforce to develop an international collaborative agenda for health systems research.
  • Sir Michael Marmot, Principal Investigator of the Whitehall studies of British civil servants, has been a leading researcher in health inequalities for the past 20 years. He investigates explanations for the striking inverse social gradient in morbidity and mortality.
  • Stanley Plotkin, MD, a pioneer in vaccine development for the last 20 years, will address the challenges of developing vaccines for the 21st century.

The Meeting is expected to draw 1500 individuals from roughly 70 countries, in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas. It is considered a key platform for health professionals and policy makers to discuss global health issues. More information about the Congress on Tropical Medicine is available online at http://www.trop-amsterdam2007.com/ 

The GAVI Alliance 

The GAVI Alliance includes among its partners developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry in both industrialised and developing countries, research and technical agencies, NGOs, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is estimated that more than 2.3 million early deaths will have been prevented as a result of support by GAVI up to the end of 2006. GAVI's efforts are critical to achieving the Millennium Development Goal on child health, which calls for reducing childhood mortality by two-thirds by 2015. Of the more than 10 million children who die before reaching their fifth birthday every year, 2.5 million die from diseases that could be prevented with currently available or new vaccines.

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