With the disease burden of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria expected to make up less than 15 percent of the total disease burden in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) by 2030, and non-communicable diseases to account for nearly 40 percent of the total in the region, “[a] revision of the approach to research and health care in SSA is therefore urgently needed, but international donors and health communities have generally been slow to respond to the changing environment,” Ole Olesen and M. Iqbal Parker of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in South Africa write in a commentary in Tropical Medicine & International Health. “Private and public funding for health research in Africa remains therefore disproportionately focused on the three major infectious diseases, whereas only smaller amounts have been allocated to confront other diseases,” they write and provide examples.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
“Chagas disease, a parasitic infection spread to humans by insects, is not the new HIV/AIDS of the Americas, according to infectious disease experts who called the comparison,” made in an editorial published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases last week, “‘unrealistic’ and ‘unfortunate,’” ABC News’ “Medical Unit” blog reports. “Rick Tarleton, president of the Chagas Disease Foundation, said the diseases have little in common beyond disproportionately affecting poor people,” the blog notes (Moisse, 6/1).
Ghana “will contribute about $1 million towards the prevention and control of endemic neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in order to protect the gains made by the country in Guinea worm eradication and the elimination of trachoma,” the country’s health minister announced on Monday at the opening of a Regional Stakeholders’ Consultative Meeting on NTDs, PANA/AfriqueJet reports. Health Minister Albin Bagbin “also called on African countries to support interventions to address NTDs and improve coordination among all stakeholders in implementing NTD programs,” the news agency writes.
“In order to break the vicious cycle that leaves tropical diseases neglected, existing programs that diagnose and treat patients need to be expanded and medical research to develop simpler, more effective tools needs to be supported, according to a new report, Fighting Neglect [.pdf], released [Monday] by Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF),” the organization reports on its webpage. “Charting the organization’s 25 years of experience in diagnosing and treating Chagas disease, sleeping sickness, and kala azar in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and the Caucasus, the report examines past, present, and future management of the diseases and notes that access to quality life-saving treatment requires much greater political will among major international donors and national governments of endemic countries,” MSF writes (6/11).
Agence France-Presse reports on human African trypanosomiasis, “commonly known as sleeping sickness, which is transmitted by tsetse flies found in 36 sub-Saharan African countries,” writing, “Without treatment in four months to a year, ‘the parasite penetrates into the brain, causing serious neurological symptoms, until death,’ said Doctor Benedict Blaynay, head of neglected tropical diseases at French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi.” The news service highlights efforts to control the disease in Chad, noting, “For the people living in Chad’s rural communities, the strange symptoms of sleeping sickness have long been shrouded in superstition about witchcraft and demonic possession. But the World Health Organization says it is not a losing battle.”
Also In Global Health News: NTD Study; False Cholera Cases In Zimbabwe; Contaminated Water In Kenya; Doctor’s Strike Ends
Study Examines Toll Of Neglected Tropical Diseases On Populations In Sub-Saharan Africa UPI reports on a recent review article in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases that analyzed the toll of neglected tropical diseases on populations in sub-Saharan Africa. “Researchers said helminth (parasitic worm) infections account for approximately 85 percent…
Researchers have sequenced the genomes of two parasites that cause bilharzia or schistosomiasis â€“ a disease transmitted by water-borne snails that affects more than 200 million people worldwide â€“ “revealing potential weaknesses that could be exploited by drug developers,” Nature reports.
The disease onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, can be eliminated using drugs, according to a WHO study, BBC reports.
Also In Global Health News: Cholera Risk In Zimbabwe; Nigeria MDG; Arab World Development; Chagas Disease
OCHA Report Warns Of Possible, New Cholera Outbreak In Zimbabwe In a report released on Tuesday, the U.N.â€™s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Zimbabwe remained at risk of a fresh outbreak of cholera when the next rainy season starts in about five months, ZimOnline reports.…
The antibiotic used to treat trachoma, “the world’s leading preventable cause of blindness,” may also protect children living in Ethiopia from death from of other diseases, according to a recent study, the Associated Press reports.