The announcement by the UK\'s Department For International Development that it is giving ?17.5 million to fund research into neglected and infectious diseases is a very welcome contribution to what is clearly a major issue of international responsibility, says the Executive Director of M?decins Sans Fronti?res UK, Jean-Michel Piedagnel.

DFID today gave ?6.5 million to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, which was itself co-founded by MSF. DNDi is an independent, non-profit, drug development initiative established in 2003. The money will go to work on human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, and malaria. The British government also gave ?4.5 million to the WHO\'s research and training programme on tropical diseases (TDR). And the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development is receiving a total of ?9 million from DFID, the Netherlands and Ireland.

\"MSF has been calling for this kind of commitment for some time and is pleased to see that the British government and others are taking concrete steps in meeting some of those responsibilities\", says Mr Piedagnel. \"That should also be seen as a challenge to other states to make a real difference where so many lives can be saved\".

\"These research initiatives, that are designed to jump-start work on diseases which are of little interest to the pharmaceutical industry, have been starved of resources and risk failure without sustained financial support,\" argues Mr Piedagnel. \"This grant is a good start, but what we really need is a system to define needs and drive money to R&D for neglected diseases on an ongoing basis. We are encouraged that just such a proposal will be considered by the World Health Assembly in May. We encourage the British government and others to support this WHA resolution.\"