Sergei Savostyanov/TASS/Getty Images

Steun de vernieuwers van de gezondheidszorg in het mondiale Zuiden

DHAKA – In 2012 luidde de London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (Londense Verklaring over Veronachtzaamde Tropische Ziekten) een stoutmoedige nieuwe visie in op het gebied van de internationale samenwerking. Netwerken en mondialisering zouden de pogingen in het mondiale Zuiden moeten ondersteunen om de dodelijke ziekten uit te roeien waar de armste gemeenschappen onevenredig zwaar door werden getroffen. De London Declaration – het grootste samenwerkingsverband op het gebied van de openbare gezondheidszorg tot dan toe – heeft geholpen het vertrouwen te bevorderen in de op regels gebaseerde mondiale orde die na de Tweede Wereldoorlog is ontstaan.

Maar dit zwaar bevochten vertrouwen verkeert nu in ernstig gevaar, omdat populistische krachten in de westerse wereld de verplichtingen die hun landen zijn aangegaan op het gebied van de buitenlandse hulp op de korrel nemen. Vooral president Donald Trump heeft forse bezuinigingen aangekondigd op het Amerikaanse budget voor buitenlandse hulp, om economisch gefrustreerde Amerikaanse kiezers te paaien die willen dat hun belastinggeld in eigen land wordt uitgegeven. Wat deze aanpak niet onderkent, is dat de voordelen op de langere termijn van het ondersteunen van medisch onderzoek in het mondiale Zuiden de kortetermijnkosten ruimschoots compenseren.

Als onderzoeker bij het International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (Internationaal Centrum voor Onderzoek naar Diarreeziekten in Bangladesh, kortweg icddr,b), ben ik regelmatig nauw betrokken geweest bij lokale inspanningen om leishmaniase (of zandmugziekte, kortweg VL of kala-azar) uit te roeien, één van de ziekten waar de London Declaration betrekking op heeft. Dankzij de royale steun van internationale donoren ben ik in staat geweest op dit terrein baanbrekend onderzoek te verrichten.

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