The Washington Post examines global efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease, writing, “The parasitic infection which has sickened millions, mostly in Asia and Africa, is on the verge of being done in not by sophisticated medicine but by aggressive public health efforts in some of the poorest and most remote parts of the world.” According to the newspaper, “hundreds of thousands of volunteers” have contributed to fighting the waterborne parasite, by handing out filtered drinking straws or treating water sources with larvicide, among other efforts. “As a result, the ailment, also known as dracunculiasis, is poised to become the second human disease (the first was smallpox) to be eradicated — and the first to be eliminated without the aid of a vaccine,” the Washington Post continues.
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
This post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, part of a six-part series of blog posts covering interesting elements of the Nicaragua experience highlighted in the case study entitled “Worms and WASH(ED),” examines how the country’s “history in ensuring a national deworming program has shed light on the potential for success.” According to the blog, “[f]ormer Global Network intern, Frankie Lucien, and fellow George Washington University Masters student, Cara Janusz, traveled to Nicaragua and investigated the challenges and achievements of the Nicaragua experience and developed a case study with support from Children Without Worms” (Mayer, 8/21).
“The United States Government has played a major role in ensuring that patients with certain [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)] receive urgently needed treatments through the [USAID] NTD Program, while simultaneously being the largest funder of basic research for NTDs through the National Institutes of Health,” Rachel Cohen, regional executive director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) of North America, writes in this post in the Global Health Technologies Coalition’s “Breakthroughs” blog. “However, today U.S. Government funding for NTDs is under threat,” as the “recently announced U.S. fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget request from the Obama Administration has slashed the USAID NTD Program budget, which was already miniscule at $89 million, by nearly 25 percent to $67 million. … This isn’t trimming the fat — it’s cutting into muscle,” she adds (Lufkin, 3/28).
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog highlights “the first-ever international podoconiosis initiative, Footwork,” launched on March 15. “Footwork is aimed at raising public awareness about the causes and impact of podoconiosis” — a form of elephantiasis — “in affected communities, and advocates for it to be included in global health and [neglected tropical disease] agendas,” the blog writes, adding, “An estimated four million people in highland tropical Africa are affected with podoconiosis, and it has been confirmed in at least 15 countries in Africa, Central America and Asia” (Patel, 3/16).
In this post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, Stephanie Ogden — a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and neglected tropical disease (NTD) consultant with Emory’s Center for Global Safe Water, Children Without Worms, and the International Trachoma Initiative — writes about a partnership among these organizations “that will encourage actionable dialogue and increased coordination between the NTD and WASH sectors.” She concludes, “I see more than ever that it will be essential for those in the WASH and NTD sectors to form long-term partnerships to achieve their common goals for health and development” (3/22).
A study published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease on Tuesday examines the relationship between political conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and “the spread or re-emergence of a variety of tropical diseases — some previously eliminated or controlled — affecting an estimated 65 million people” in the region, VOA News reports (Sinha, 3/1). “The report, authored by global health leaders Dr. Peter Hotez, Dr. Lorenzo Savioli and professor Alan Fenwick, reveals the high prevalence and uneven distribution of [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)] such as schistosomiasis, lymphatic filiariasis, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever in the MENA region and suggests opportunities for NTD control, especially in high-risk populations in Egypt and Yemen,” the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases writes in an article on its website.
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), a regional arm of the World Health Organization (WHO), on Tuesday “unveiled new guidelines to help countries throughout the Americas detect and prevent transmission of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus — a disease which has already infected more than two million people around the world,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The guidelines’ authors, PAHO adviser on viral diseases Otavio Oliva and PAHO adviser on dengue Jose Luis San Martin, warned that the fact that people in the Americas have not been exposed to chikungunya virus, placed the region at particular risk for the introduction and spread of the virus,” the news service adds (2/28).
“New research supported by Sightsavers and the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) shows that yes, onchocerciasis really can be eliminated when treatment is distributed in an area for a sustained period” and “found that the disease may already be eliminated in one Nigerian state, marking a significant milestone for onchocerciasis control programs,” the Global Network for Neglected Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog writes (Alabaster, 3/6). “I think … the lesson here [is that] results don’t happen over night, but when the programs are given time to achieve them and the right systems are in place to monitor and measure them, great things can happen,” Karen Grepin writes of the study in her “Global Health Blog” (3/6).
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Al Ansari Exchange, “a major foreign exchange and remittance company in the [United Arab Emirates], have committed $10 million over the next five years to tackle” polio and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Devex reports (Ravelo, 10/10). “The agreement, which was jointly signed in Abu Dhabi by Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and Mohammed Ali Al Ansari, chairman of the board of Al Ansari Exchange, will kick off with an initial co-funded contribution of $4 million to support polio eradication activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan and the prevention and treatment of NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa,” an Al Ansari Exchange press release notes (10/9). In his blog, “The Gates Notes,” Gates provides a transcript of his speech at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Media Summit, where the agreement was signed (10/9).
The Financial Times has published a special report (.pdf) on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) featuring 10 articles examining issues including prevention, research, and treatment.