The Director-General of the International Vaccine Institute highlighted the IVI´s efforts to introduce cholera vaccines for the world´s poor at the second Asian Science and Technology Forum (ASTF) in Tokyo, Japan on Sept 8. Dr. John Clemens was one of 17 prominent speakers from eight countries at the forum, which brought together 300 scientists from Japan and elsewhere.
Dr. Clemens gave a speech, entitled, "Old Wine in a New Bottle: Collaborative Research in Asia to Accelerate the Introduction of Killed, Oral Cholera Vaccines," during a session on infectious diseases, which focused on "Bilateral/Multilateral Joint Efforts and Networking to Cope with Infectious Diseases for Sustainable Development in Asia."
In his speech, Dr. Clemens described how the IVI´s Disease of the Most Impoverished (DOMI) program, a six-year effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, is generating an evidence base for the introduction of oral cholera vaccines as tools for the control of cholera amongst the world´s poorest populations. The vaccines have been licensed for over ten years for use by Western tourists, but have not been widely available in resource-poor, cholera-endemic nations where they are needed most.
"Modern biotechnology is yielding an enormous diversity of new vaccine candidates that offer breathtaking prospects for disease prevention in the developing world," Dr. Clemens said. "However, at times the focus on new vaccines and new technologies has diverted attention away from considering already licensed vaccines that could be useful disease-control tools in developing countries."
The one-day annual forum will be held for three years from 2005 to 2007 with the overall theme "Challenges for Science and Technology in Achieving Sustainable Development in Asia." The forum is co-hosted by the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention in Japan. Other sessions during this year´s event included: "Science and Technology Policy," "Environment and Energy Issues," and "Natural Disasters, Society, Development, Science & Technology."