Plan to cut burden of tropical disease

 
Man with river blindness It is hoped to cut the number of cases of river blindness substantially

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Politicians, health experts and drug companies have agreed a plan to combat 10 neglected tropical diseases over the next decade.

They aim to eliminate diseases such as leprosy and Guinea worm and drastically reduce cases of others, including river blindness and schistosomiasis.

The diseases affect more than a billion people a year in the poorest countries of the world.

The plan involves a dramatic increase in drugs and treatment programmes.

Among those signed up are global health organisations, the UK and US Governments, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and pharmaceutical companies.

Dr Caroline Anstey of the World Bank said: "These are not neglected diseases - but rather diseases of neglected people."

Ancient diseases

Start Quote

I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade”

End Quote Dr Margaret Chan World Health Organization

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, said these ancient diseases were already being "brought to their knees with stunning speed".

"With the boost to this momentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade."

The goal is to eliminate the following diseases by 2020: Guinea worm, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma and sleeping sickness.

In addition the goal is to reduce and control these diseases: schistosomiasis, river blindness, soil-transmitted helminthes, Chagas disease and visceral leishmaniasis.

Disfigurement

Neglected Tropical Diseases is an umbrella term for a range of bacterial, parasitic and worm infections which flourish in areas with poor water quality and inadequate sanitation. They can cause disfigurement, disability, organ damage and sometimes death.

Thirteen pharmaceutical companies have agreed a dramatic increase in drug donation which will see 1.4 billion treatments each year being supplied.

In addition, several companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer and Sanofi have agreed to share compounds and knowledge in order to develop news medicines.

Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, said: "No one company or organisation can do it alone.

"Today we pledge to work hand-in-hand to revolutionise the way we fight these diseases now and in the future."

The largest coordinated effort to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases was announced at an event at the Royal College of Physicians in London.

One key obstacle is the acute shortage of healthcare workers in many poor countries, who are crucial to ensure treatments reach those who need them.

Sir Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, outlines the tropical disease plan

 
Fergus Walsh, Medical correspondent Article written by Fergus Walsh Fergus Walsh Medical correspondent

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1.

    Full marks to everyone involved in this initiative. Many of the diseases are virtually unknown outside the countries involved and the few specialist tropical medicine institutes of the developed world. Those afflicted truly have their quality of life reduced enormously. They are nevertheless human beings and their sufferings must, in the name of humanity, be addressed by those of us able to do so.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 2.

    I quite a agree but without wanting to sound ignorant doesn't there need to be a two pronged approach? By this I mean more investment in clean water supply, disposal of sewage and dirty water? Surely if people continue to have to drink contaminated water and live in areas with open sewers it will be much harder, even with drugs, to wipe out these illnesses?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 3.

    We have the means to "save" more lives, whether it be through new drugs, improved crop yields, expert neonatal care or clean water supplies.

    Alongside this, it is imperative that we encourage birth control to curb the world's exponentially increasing population.

    If we don't then unprecedented levels of famine, disease, drought and war will be inevitable in the coming decades.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 4.

    Actually all of the above are needed: funding for drugs and service delivery and human resources to provide treatment, better water and sanitation, better agriculture and access to family planning. In addition the public health supply chains to get these newly funded drugs and family planning commodities have got to be funded and staffed. These supply chains need to serve these neglected people,

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    :
    3.Peakeen :
    "Alongside this, it is imperative that we encourage birth control to curb the world's exponentially increasing population."
    ***
    At least this remark doesn't single out Africa, but I've yet to see an article about ending 3rd World suffering without comments blaming those who suffer.Or that you can end poverty by getting rid of the poor.

 

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