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Religious Leaders Should Come Together To Ensure Access To NTD Medicines For World’s Poorest

Most of the world’s neglected tropical diseases occur among populations that adhere to Islam, Catholicism, or Hinduism, an observation that “affords an opportunity to establish a unique interfaith dialogue among religious leaders” leading to global action, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Serap Aksoy, a professor at the Yale School of Public Health, write in a PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) editorial. They provide statistics of NTD infections among different populations living in countries dominated by specific religious affiliations and write, “These high prevalence NTDs not only have a devastating health impact on these populations, but … they also represent major reasons why such populations cannot escape poverty.”

The authors note the cost-effectiveness of programs that use mass drug administration (MDA) and multi-drug therapy (MDT), concluding, “Given that the NTDs are trapping such populations and faiths in a vicious cycle of poverty and despair, and the extremely low costs of MDA and MDT interventions, religious leaders should be brought together for identifying financial and other mechanisms for ensuring the poorest people gain access to essential medicines for NTDs. … A global summit of religious leaders, academicians at the major religion-affiliated universities, and heads of states of the [low- and middle-income countries] would represent an important first step towards these goals” (12/20).