The following is a guest blog post from Andrea Corazza, European Advocacy Officer, Global Health Advocates*
Through its policies, legislation and bilateral/regional trade agreements, the European Union (EU) has a major impact on global health both in terms of research and development (R&D) of new and improved medicines for Poverty-Related and Neglected Diseases (PRNDs) and their accessibility to populations in developing countries.
To ensure that EU policies deliver a coherent, comprehensive and pro-active response to address these issues, Global Health Advocates and the Médecins Sans Frontières Access Campaign created the European Parliament Working Group on Innovation, Access to Medicines and Poverty-Related Diseases together with Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) back in 2009.
This Working Group provides a platform to ensure that global health issues remain high on the EU agenda and to advocate for the adoption of EU policies that stimulate innovation for urgently-needed health tools and improve access to existing medicines, diagnostics and vaccines. The working group regularly organises high-level events, meetings and occasionally field visits for MEPs, EU institutions’ staff and parliamentarians from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to show, among others, the impact of R&D gaps on the health of populations in developing countries and foster the understanding of decision-makers on these issues.
Following recent elections at the European Parliament in May 2014, the Working Group, which gathers about 300 members from a broad range of stakeholders, is renewing its membership to bring additional energy and commitment to its work and activities. Former members have testified about the importance of the Group and are inviting new MEPs to join via this short and inspiring video:
Both Horizon 2020, the EU €70 billion Research and Innovation Programme, and the continuation of the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), a partnership between the European Commission and several European and African countries, present great opportunities to increase the EU’s contribution towards research and innovation for PRNDs in the coming years. By raising the profile of these issues, contributing to annual budget negotiations and using their power of scrutiny over EU policies, members of the Working Group will play a crucial role in ensuring that EU institutions are engaged in the fight against PRNDs both politically and financially.
To join the Working Group or for further information, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
*Global Health Advocates is a non-governmental organisation based in Paris and Brussels that advocates for policy change at the highest political level and mobilizes resources to tackle major health threats and build sustainable health systems.
 As intended here, PRNDs include the three big diseases of poverty (HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria) and the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases recognized by the World Health Organization.