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Recent Releases: Polio Eradication; Chagas Disease Discovery Anniversary; River Blindness; Malaria Tools; Childhood Malnutrition

MMWR Examines Polio Eradication In India

The latest edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report includes an article about polio eradication in India, which is the “most populous of the four remaining countries (including Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan) where transmission of wild poliovirus (WPV) has never been interrupted.” According to the journal, eradicating polio in the country is dependent on “ongoing efforts to interrupt remaining WPV transmission simultaneously in high-risk areas” (7/10).

Recent Releases About Chagas Disease As 100-Year Anniversary Approaches

As the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Trypanosoma cruzi and its connection to Chagas disease (CD) approaches, the authors of an editorial in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases write, “We must run at least twice as fast to increase our efforts to control this poverty-promoting disease.” They conclude, “By controlling CD and other [Neglected Tropical Diseases] in Latin America… the most vulnerable populations in this region may be in a better position to achieve the Millennium Development Goals” (Franco-Paredes/ Bottazzi/Hotez, 7/7).

A related article in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases explores treatment for the disease. The authors conclude, “One century after the discovery by Chagas, progress has been made along the path to understanding and controlling CD; however, much remains to be done in order to truly be able to adequately treat this disease afflicting a reported 9.8 million patients” (Ribeiro et al. 7/7). Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) kicked off a campaign and issued a report to raise international awareness about CD. MSF will advocate for endemic countries to increase diagnosis and treatment measures, according to an MSF release (7/9).

Fight Against River Blindness Can Help With Combating Other Diseases

A recent Lancet editorial describes efforts to fight onchocerciasis or river blindness worldwide. According to the editorial, the “drawbacks of some of today’s treatments in terms of cost and toxicity, as well as difficulties that could be raised by comorbid diseases” should be considered, but “the benefits of innovation and research need to be harnessed by greater investment in developing new therapeutic agents against familiar infectious diseases.” The lessons and “mutual benefits of collaboration” used in fighting river blindness “should be heeded and reapplied to intractable tropical diseases such as Chagas disease and leishmaniasis, as well as to prominent public health challenges, including malaria,” the Lancet writes (7/11).

Without Improved Diagnostics, Funding For Antimalarial Therapy Risks Being Wasted, BMJ Analysis Piece Argues

Though “[m]alaria incidence is likely to continue to fall in many parts of Africa over the next few years as preventive measures are implemented and sustained,” an analysis piece appearing in the British Medical Journal calls for greater funding toward the development of improved tools to better diagnose and track the disease in the region. “Investment in the infrastructure and training to achieve this will not only avoid wasting antimalarial drugs, but will provide a basis for tackling other febrile illness” and “build structures that will provide long term health benefits,” the authors write (Hopkins/Asiimwe/Bell, 7/7).

Lancet Comment Explores Severe Acute Malnutrition In Children

In a comment published in the journal Lancet, Zulfigar Bhutta of Aga Khan University’s Division of Women & Child Health, writes about severe acute malnutrition in children. She examines where the condition occurs most often and how it is addressed. “Persistently high rates of severe acute malnutrition are a stark reminder of failings in state responsibility and public health systems,” Bhutta writes. “The current Millennium Development Goal indicators for nutrition also do not specifically include severe acute malnutrition. If there was ever a face of poverty and policy failure that we might focus on, it is the proportion of severely malnourished children and fundamentals of equitable access to food and health care,” Bhutta concludes (Bhutta, 7/11).