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Charlie Rose Science Series to Focus on the Challenge of Researching and Implementing Effective Treatments for Diseases of the Developing World
Date:10/29/2007

Roundtable examines critical and emerging threats to global health and

socio-economic factors that affect prevalence of these diseases

NEW YORK, Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The 20th century ushered in many notable medical advances and achievements in public health. However, the increased incidence and burden of major infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and the re-emergence of tuberculosis, present critical health challenges to the global community. As part of his ongoing Science Series on PBS, Charlie Rose, co-host Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Laureate, and President of Rockefeller University, and leading voices, will address complex health issues in the developing world and the socio-economic factors that contribute to the spread of these diseases. The roundtable will discuss initiatives aimed at fighting infectious diseases, protecting women and children, and strengthening global public health systems. The conversations will cover the challenge of researching and implementing affordable treatments, and the physical, political and psychological obstacles that poverty presents in getting therapies to people who need them.

The tenth episode in the 12-part Charlie Rose Science Series, sponsored by Pfizer Inc, will begin airing on Monday, October 29, 2007, on more than 200 PBS stations across the country.

HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, hookworm infection, and eye diseases claim millions of lives across the globe every year. Approximately 25 million people have died of HIV/AIDS and based on United Nations statistics from 2002, malaria accounted for nearly 11 percent of all children's deaths in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization, of the 8.8 million new cases of tuberculosis in 2005, nearly 7.5 million occurred in Asia and sub- Saharan Africa, resulting in well over one million deaths. Diseases like hookworm, which affects between 600 and 740 million per year, and certain eye diseases such as trachoma, have been all but eradicated in the developed world, yet they still devastate millions of the world's poor.

"The problem of global health is not only a matter of disease and medicine -- issues of poverty, infrastructure, and the environment are all inseparable," said Charlie Rose. "Vaccines and other technologies are being developed that could one day eliminate the worst diseases. But for now, large-scale improvement remains theoretical."

Charlie's special guests will include: Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, President of the Sabine Vaccine Institute; Jeffrey Sachs, PhD, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University; Tonya Villafana, PhD, MPH, Director, Portfolio Management System at the Malaria Vaccine Initiative; Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF.

In addition to limited access to health care and medicines, a number of social and economic factors contribute to the high rates of infectious diseases. Poverty, poor sanitation, lack of access to clean water antibiotic resistance, evolving human migration patterns, overcrowded and impoverished living conditions, poor nutrition and compromised immune systems are all key factors in increasing incidence of these diseases.

The sheer enormity of health care needs in developing countries means that no one organization or company can solve the problem alone.

"We must be a part of the solution or risk being a bystander to history," said Robert Mallett, Senior Vice President of Pfizer and President of The Pfizer Foundation. "We are working with public and private partners in implementing long-term programs such as the International Trachoma Institute and Mobilize Against Malaria to provide and deliver treatments to the poorest and most vulnerable populations. Through robust medicine access efforts, education and outreach programs, social advocacy, and building medical infrastructures, like the Infectious Disease Institute that we established in Uganda, Pfizer is helping to broaden and sustain access to quality health care and fight some of the biggest health challenges facing our world today."

The World Health Organization has raised nearly two billion dollars to fight tuberculosis. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other international organizations have spearheaded projects to fight the diseases, develop effective vaccines, and ways to deliver the therapies to those afflicted with HIV/AIDS and malaria.

"I'm optimistic given the magnitude of this problem," said Dr. Nurse. "Over the past few years, developed countries, governments, pharmaceutical companies, and philanthropic organizations have begun working together with developing nations in the search for solutions to the medical, scientific, and socio-economic issues related to global health. The increasing resources and philanthropic efforts directed toward fighting these major diseases are really encouraging and I am optimistic that we will see really significant progress in the coming years."

Pfizer's support for the Charlie Rose Science Series and its exploration of the advances being made in scientific research, their contribution to our understanding of the world around us, and how these breakthroughs may be applied to improving human health is part of Pfizer's commitment to expanding scientific understanding.

Past episodes of the Charlie Rose Science Series have explored research that has led to a better understanding of the human brain; the discovery and mapping of human DNA; new insights into longevity and the body's aging mechanisms; an in-depth look at cancer, the latest advances in stem cell research; the problem of obesity in the American population especially among children and teenagers; the continually growing problem of HIV/AIDS worldwide; and the global burden of cardiovascular disease.

For more information about the Charlie Rose Science Series or to watch clips from past episodes, please visit http://www.charlierose.com.


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SOURCE Charlie Rose
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