Archive for January, 2011

New Video from Notre Dame NTD Awareness Group

January 31st, 2011

ND Fighting NTDs is a student-run group from the University of Notre Dame. They have contributed to End the Neglect in the past, most recently with this blog post highlighting their Annual NTD Awareness week at Notre Dame last December. Today we are featuring a video that they created as an advocacy tool to encourage others to do their part in the fight against NTDs.

**Warning: Graphic content:

Gates Goes After Polio

January 31st, 2011

This morning Bill Gates released his third Annual Letter.  Since 2009, Gates has written a publication which outlines the priorities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in the coming year.  A major focus for the Foundation in 2011 will be vaccines. In particular, Gates is urging the global health community to finish the decades long quest of eradicating polio.

In the same way that during my Microsoft career I talked about the magic of software, I now spend my time talking about the magic of vaccines. Vaccines have taken us to the threshold of eradicating polio. They are the most effective and cost-effective health tool ever invented. I like to say vaccines are a miracle. Just a few doses of vaccine can protect a child from debilitating and deadly diseases for a lifetime,” writes Gates in his 2011 Annual Letter.

The subject of vaccines is, of course, special to the Sabin Vaccine Institute for a few reasons. We advocate for the widespread use of vaccines because we believe in their power to prevent needless suffering and death.  Sabin was also founded in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin who developed the oral polio vaccine.  Dr. Sabin’s vaccine is credited with helping to eliminate polio from all but four nations in the world (Afghanistan, Nigeria, India and Pakistan).

Another special connection that we have to vaccines and disease eradication is through Sabin Executive Vice President Dr. Ciro de Quadros who contributed to the eradication of smallpox worldwide.  Smallpox is the only disease to have been eradicated from humanity, but with Gates shining a spotlight on polio it’s not likely to remain the sole disease to have that honor for long.

This morning Dr. de Quadros will join Gates and other global health experts in NYC for a presentation of Gates’ Annual Letter and a discussion on “Polio Eradication and the Power of Vaccines.”  The event will be webcast live beginning at 9:30 AM EST.

Stay tuned to the webcast and the global fight to eradicate polio, they’re both certain to get people talking about health and the enormous opportunities for science to impact our lives.  As Gates notes in his Annual Letter “investments in health lead to amazing victories.”

Ending the neglect

January 28th, 2011

UK-based journalist Emilie Filou (who recently authored this great article on Trachoma), writes about neglected tropical diseases again for This is Africa. The article also features snippets from interviews Filou conducted with Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director of the Global Network, and Dr. Peter Hotez. The piece discusses the role of pharmaceuticals in NTD control, the importance of integration across other disease and issue areas and elimination goals.

From the article:

“The term ‘other disease’ has been a great frustration,” says Dr Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and an expert on NTDs. “It’s quite clear that you won’t get Bono or Angelina Jolie to help out with ‘other diseases’. That’s what spurred us to call them Neglected Tropical Diseases as a group. It’s not the greatest of names, but it will help galvanise awareness,” he says.

Advocacy group The Global Network for NTDs is now lobbying to include NTDs under the remit of The Global Fund, Pepfar or the President’s Malaria Initiative. “We have new data coming out of Zimbabwe that shows that women infected with schistosomiasis are three times more likely to be infected with HIV,” explains Dr Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network.

“Treating schistosomiasis therefore becomes an intervention for HIV control; it’s those links we need to make to justify the inclusion of NTDs in global health efforts.”

There are many more such synergies: HIV-positive individuals have seen a decrease in their viral load when de-wormed; lymphatic filariasis is transmitted by mosquitoes, so the use of bednets, widely distributed for malaria control, is an efficient prevention measure.

Dr Mistry says that including NTDs in the Global Fund would only increase their budget marginally, but substantially increase their impact. “It costs as little $0.5 per year to treat an individual against NTDs. Compare that with the $100 it costs to treat someone with HIV, or the $35 the average African family spends on malaria control. In terms of investment, you won’t find a better return in health.”

To read the full article click here

Global Health and Corruption

January 27th, 2011

By: Alanna Shaikh

It feels like everyone is talking about global health and corruption right now. Rajiv Shah mentioned it explicitly in his recent speech on USAID’s new approach to international development. The Associated press wrote an over the top alarmist article (1) about the Global Fund’s Inspector General uncovering a .03 percent loss of grant money to corruption. CGD put up two blog posts on corruption and global health, which has been followed a by a slew of other bloggers joining in the conversation.

Read more: Global Health and Corruption

Spotlight on Deworm the World

January 26th, 2011

By: Alanna Shaikh

There are a whole lot of groups out there doing their part to make neglected tropical diseases a little less neglected, ranging from tiny NGOs to large partnerships like the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (which sponsors this blog). One interesting NGO is Deworm the World[1]. They connect groups that work with schoolchildren to interested donors, to help good efforts get the funding they need. Their goal is to improve school attendance, and therefore education, by supporting deworming efforts.

I like their approach. They didn’t set up a whole new NGO to do what other groups are already doing. Instead, they found a way to help the groups that are already out there. They draw on the energy and expertise of the Forum of Young Global Leaders to support their work and raise the profile of helminthes.

So, it sounds good, but what does Deworm the World actually do?

Read more: Spotlight on Deworm the World

Reading List 1/25/2011

January 25th, 2011

We have a new reading list to kick off your Tuesday! Today were reading about Sierra Leone introducing a new pneumococcal vaccine program, recent news about The Global Fund, and what Bill Gates and Microsoft are contributing to the world of global health and parasitic diseases.

Childrens lives at risk from vaccine funding gap, The Guardian MASSIVE CORRUPTION! (…in Small Global Health Grants?), William Savedoff, Center for Global Development Global Fund statement on abuse of funds in some countries, The Global Fund Bill Gates sees philanthropy bug spreading, Kate Kelland, The Globe and Mail Microsoft Looks To Get Into the Parasite Business, David Richards, SmartHouse

McGill Awarded $1-Million Grant to Address Debilitating Parasitic Diseases in the Developing World

January 24th, 2011

It has been announced today that McGill University has been awarded a $1 million grant for research development on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This grant will support the research of Dr. Timothy Geary, Director of the Institute of Parasitology at McGill in conjunction with Dr. Eliane Ubalijoro of the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University as well. Grand Challenges Canada, Canadas International Development Research Centre, The Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are all responsible for providing the grant, and are in support of this research. Drs. Greary and Ubalijoro along with African scientists are using African biodiversity, specifically identifying compounds from African botanical and microbial sources, to develop new medicines to treat parasitic worm infections.

This grant is a step in the right direction toward the elimination of NTDs, and will help in addressing a global health issue that affects one-sixth of the worlds population. Click here to read the entire press release.

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    • The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is a major advocacy and resource mobilization initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)--a group of disabling, disfiguring, and deadly diseases affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day.
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