In this post in the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ “End the Neglect” blog, guest blogger Jessica Taaffe, founder of Scientists for Global Health (SciGlo) and a postdoctoral fellow researching severe malaria immunopathogenesis at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “discusses the importance of the biomedical community’s contributions to improving health worldwide,” writing, “The collective voice and influence of the biomedical community in global health has been weak, despite our invaluable scientific contributions to improving health worldwide. This needs to change.” She continues, “One way the biomedical community can become more directly involved in global health is through raising awareness of the diseases on which we work. This effort is particularly crucial for those researching diseases occurring mainly outside of the U.S.” (4/16).
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
This post on IntraHealth International’s “Global Health Blog” discusses a new report (.pdf) from the WHO, titled “Research and Development to Meet Health Needs in Developing Countries: Strengthening Global Financing and Coordination,” which “concludes that ‘all countries should commit to spend at least 0.01 percent of GDP on government-funded R&D [research and development] devoted to meeting the health needs of developing countries.'” The post states, “The report has a double significance. First, it is a vigorous statement of the need for a binding agreement on health innovation to address diseases that mostly affect developing countries. Second, it is an important concrete step on the long path to it” (Chiscop, 4/13).
Yaws, a skin and bone disease caused by a treponematoses bacterium that can cause long-term deformities, “has recently been put on WHO’s list of 17 so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)” and, along with Guinea worm, is “slated for eradication,” the Lancet reports. A “massive push to free the world from yaws failed in the 1950s and 1960s,” and the WHO in 1995 estimated “there were 2.5 million cases of endemic treponematoses (mostly yaws),” according to the Lancet. A study published in the Lancet in January showed a single dose of the antibiotic azithromycin was effective at curing the disease among children, a finding that “jump-started the NTD community into action,” the article states.
The philanthropic organization Dubai Cares has announced a $1 million donation to partner with The END Fund in the establishment “of a school-based deworming program that will treat children in Angola,” according to the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (NTD) “End the Neglect” blog. “The END Fund’s chairman William Campbell stated that, ‘This pioneering investment in partnership with The END Fund adds further momentum behind our goal of eradicating Africa’s seven most prevalent NTDs by 2020,'” the blog notes (Patel, 4/11).
“As we have seen in our work in Haiti and around the world, shoes are a first level of defense when it comes to good health, and are a great complement to the Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Control program IMA World Health implements in Haiti,” Rick Santos, president and CEO of IMA World Health, writes in the Huffington Post Blog, commemorating One Day Without Shoes, observed on Tuesday. “In addition to preventing cuts and injuries that can become infected, shoes can help prevent the spread of hookworm — which affects an estimated 740 million people globally according to a World Health Organization estimate — and other soil-transmitted diseases that can enter through the feet,” he notes, adding, “Shoes are especially helpful when combined with other programs designed to keep children and families healthy.”
Inexpensive Female Genital Schistosomiasis Prevention Could Help Reduce Women’s Risk Of HIV Infection
In this Huffington Post “Global Motherhood” blog post, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, describes female genital schistosomiasis (FGS), which affects more than 100 million women and girls in Africa and “causes horrific pain and bleeding in the uterus, cervix and lower genital tract, not to mention social stigma and depression.” According to studies, women affected by FGS “have a three- to four-fold increase in the risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS,” but a low-cost drug called praziquantel may prevent FGS “and therefore also serve as a low-cost AIDS prevention strategy if it is administered annually to African girls and women beginning in their school-aged years,” he notes.
In this New York Times opinion piece, journalist Amy Yee examines the cost-effectiveness of and challenges to deworming treatment campaigns in the developing world, deworming campaigns in India and Kenya. She writes, “Intestinal worms are pervasive in the developing world and can have devastating effects. But there is growing awareness about how easy and inexpensive it is to treat worms, as well as surprising longer-term socioeconomic benefits. Research shows deworming to be extremely cost-effective.” Yee provides statistics from previous studies on the various benefits of deworming school-aged children and asks, “If giving deworming pills to schoolchildren is so easy and effective, why haven’t more large-scale programs taken off?”
“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).
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).
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).