Dr Noor Hisham Is Selected To Join Global COVID-19 Fight Along With Prominent Scientists

Dr Noor Hisham is the first name listed in the Neglected Diseases initiative's (DNDi) signatories.

Cover image via Mohd Fadli Hamzah/New Straits Times & Health Policy Watch

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has been selected to join a coalition of global scientists to stop the COVID-19 pandemic

According to Bernama, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) said Dr Noor Hisham is among the 74 signatories for the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition, an international coalition that is tasked to accelerate desperately needed COVID-19 research.

Other than scientists, the coalition also comprises of physicians, funders, ministries of health, academia, not-for-profit research and development organisations, NGOs, and international organisations from over 70 institutions from over 30 countries.

The group of greatest minds will work together to find solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and cease the spread in resource-poor settings, where the people are most vulnerable to the infection.

Dr Noor Hisham will be joined by prominent scientists from universities such as Harvard and Oxford among others

Notable figures in the coalition include the Kolokotrones University Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Harvard Medical School, USA, Paul Farmer; Director-General of the Institut Pasteur, France, Stewart Cole; and Senior Scientist at the University of Oxford, Philippe J Guerin.

Citing a comment published in a peer-reviewed general medical journal, The Lancet, DNDi said that international research collaboration and coordination are needed urgently to support African, Latin American, Eastern European, and certain Asian countries to respond effectively to the worsening pandemic.

DNDi's statement noted that although the World Health Organisation (WHO)-led SOLIDARITY trial has been launched and currently has 600 COVID-19 clinical trials registered, very few trials are planned in resource-poor settings.

"The scale of the challenge is clearly beyond the scope of any single organisation," DNDi said in a statement.

"The coalition will facilitate a coordinated approach, so that all data from all regions can be collected in a similar fashion, pooled and shared in real-time."

The WHO commended and welcomed the initiative set out by the DNDi

WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan.

Image via Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations/YouTube

"We welcome the launch of this coalition, which takes advantage of existing multinational and multidisciplinary expertise in running clinical trials in resource-poor settings, and will help the WHO in its coordinating role in the global response to COVID-19," said WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan.

"Although the epicentre is today elsewhere, we must prepare now for the consequences of this pandemic in more resource-constrained settings or we stand to lose many more lives."

Members of the coalition also called for specific commitments to ensure access, so that effective new treatments are made available as soon as possible in resource-poor settings and are affordable and readily accessible.

To see the full signatories of the DNDi's coalition, visit here.

Last month, the WHO chose Malaysia as one of the countries to conduct joint research on an antiviral compound called Remdesivir:

Since then, the drug has been approved by the Ministry of Health to be used on COVID-19 patients in Malaysia:

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