News Archive

January 1, 2010 - Scientific American Magazine
"A Plan to Defeat Neglected Tropical Diseases"

Peter Jay Hotez explores the complexities and challenges of treating Neglected Tropical Diseases, a group of seven tropical diseases, mostly caused by parasitic worms, which afflict a billion impoverished people worldwide. These diseases – roundworm, whipworm, hookworm, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis and trachoma – cause severe anemia, malnutrition, delays in intellectual and cognitive development, and blindness.

"Together their global health damage, as measured by the number of healthy life years lost because of disability, is roughly equivalent to that of HIV/AIDS or malaria," the author reports. "Because of their devastating toll on child education and development, pregnancy, and agricultural worker productivity, these NTDs are a major cause of poverty."

Fortunately, these diseases can be easily treated, often with a single pill. Various organizations, including Helen Keller International, and foundations are collaborating to deliver these drugs, however, necessary funding is lacking to provide complete drug coverage for the billion or more people with NTDs.

 

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