By 2031 developing countries could need an estimated $35 billion to fight HIV/AIDS â€“ three times the amount currently spent, according to a Health Affairs study published Tuesday, the New York Times reports. The analysis â€“ based on economic models that assumed condoms, drugs and circumcision would be widespread – found that “even under the best case … more than one million people would be newly infected each year.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
“The Intellectual Property & Science division of Thomson Reuters [on Tuesday] announced the publication of a new study tracking the current status of research on neglected tropical diseases [NTDs],” a Thomson Reuters Corporation press release reports. “The Global Research Report Neglected Tropical Diseases analyzes research output across countries and fields from 1992-2011 and finds a two-fold increase in published literature focused on a group of diseases identified by the World Health Organization as underserved by public health services,” the press release states, adding, “Despite these recent gains, the total research output is still significantly less than that of ‘first world’ diseases” (6/19).
“The Kenyan government has launched guidelines for the treatment and prevention of visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala azar or black fever, in a move government officials say is meant to contain the parasitic disease, which is endemic in the northern region of the country,” IRIN reports. “The new guidelines call for, among other things, the use of rapid diagnostic test kits, mobile test centers and the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets in areas where the disease is most prevalent,” the news service writes, adding, “The treatment has also been reduced from a 30-day single-dose treatment to a 17-day double-dose injection.” “‘These guidelines will ensure that early diagnosis of kala azar is done so that those infected can get timely and effective treatment,’ Shahnaz Sharif, the director of public health, told IRIN,” the news service notes (9/27).
“A bipartisan pair of senators is expanding an existing working group on malaria issues to become a congressional caucus that will focus on efforts to combat 17 tropical diseases including malaria,” CQ HealthBeat reports (Adams, 9/21). Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) last week “announced that the Senate Working Group on Malaria would join its counterpart in the House of Representatives by adding neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to the group’s agenda,” the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog writes, noting the announcement was made at “a special Congressional Reception celebrating the progress of USAID’s NTD Program” (Garlow, 9/21). At the event, “USAID and more than 40 non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, global health and civil society groups, and pharmaceutical companies gathered in the Russell Senate Office Building to celebrate the numerous successful partnerships that have led to advances in NTD treatment and control,” the blog states in a separate post (Garlow, 9/21). CQ HealthBeat notes, “Although a working group is similar to a caucus, the senators hope that making the group an official caucus will show their colleagues that it is a permanent coalition” (9/21).
As the BRIC countries — Brazil, Russia, India, and China — invest more in innovations in health technologies and other areas, “many are looking to these countries to correct the global health research and development (R&D) imbalance that leaves the poor without needed products such as an improved tuberculosis (TB) vaccine or tests to help diagnose patients in remote rural settings,” David de Ferranti, president of Results for Development Institute (R4D), writes in the Huffington Post Blog. Writing that “India, which has already played such an important role in manufacturing affordable antiretroviral drugs, vaccines, and other essential health commodities for developing countries,” de Ferranti asks whether India “is … ready to play a leading role in health R&D?”
“The World Health Organization reports Guinea worm disease, which has plagued people for thousands of years, is on the verge of eradication,” VOA News reports. “The U.N. agency says fewer than 400 cases of the infectious parasitic disease exist in four African countries, and that it will soon become only the second, after smallpox, to be wiped off the face of the earth,” the news service writes (Schlein, 8/28). “The number of Guinea worm disease cases has dropped from 3,190 in 2009 to just under 396 cases during the first six months of 2012, according to the [WHO],” the U.N. News Centre notes, adding, “Gautam Biswas of WHO’s Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases told a news conference in Geneva … that aggressive public health and hygiene awareness among the communities where the disease is still endemic is vital to eradicating it” (8/28).
“Europe is becoming a ‘hotspot’ for emerging infections as those typically confined to tropical climates are making their way north, according to research that links climate change to the global spread of disease,” the Financial Times reports. “Changing environmental conditions have facilitated the spread of bacteria and other carriers across borders, reports a study” published in the journal Science last week, according to the news service. The study, which “cited outbreaks of West Nile fever in Greece and Romania and dengue fever in France and Croatia,” found that, “[u]nder current weather conditions, seven climate-influenced diseases, including Rift Valley fever and encephalitis, could pose a threat to people in Europe,” the news service writes.
“A vaccine against one of the most neglected yet fatal tropical diseases is being tested for the first time in a clinical trial in India and the U.S.,” IRIN reports. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), “also called kala-azar or black fever, infects an estimated half million persons or more annually,” and “[i]t is found most commonly in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Brazil and Sudan,” the news service notes. “A total of 72 volunteers are participating in the trial, but scientists say it will take years of testing to roll out an affordable vaccine to the 200 million people globally at risk of VL infection,” IRIN writes, adding, “The WHO has warned that VL is spreading to previously unaffected countries due to co-infections of HIV and leishmaniasis, while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said climate change can also spur the spread of the disease” (5/9).
The Financial Times has published a special report (.pdf) on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) featuring 10 articles examining issues including prevention, research, and treatment.
A post on the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTDs) “End the Neglect” blog describes how representatives of the Global Network recently “traveled through Europe to raise the profile for NTDs and encourage support from European bilateral aid agencies, policymakers and other key stakeholders in France, Germany, Denmark, and Norway.” The blog describes meetings among government and health officials in the three countries and says additional information on European policy engagement is available on the Global Network’s website (10/5).