Archive for the Tuberculosis category

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

The Only Source of Knowledge is Experience

November 3rd, 2010

All week, my colleagues and I are attending various sessions at the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. We will be listening to global health experts speak on a cadre of hot global health topics including  schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis,  water and hygiene, malaria, tuberculosis, human rights and integrated control of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

This includes presentations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Children without WormsSchistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Helen Keller International (HKI), Taskforce for Global Health and the National Institutes of Health (NIH),  among many others.

To kick off what will be a week chock-full of the latest research and data, as well as fruitful discussion and debate in the dynamic realm of tropical medicine, tonight’s opening plenary session featured Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director, CDC, delivers remarks at opening plenary of ASTMH Annual Meeting. Photo Credit: ASTMH blog

Read more: The Only Source of Knowledge is Experience

11/1/2010 Reading List

November 1st, 2010

Its the first of the month readers! Today we have a brand new list of reads for your NTD and global health fix. This Monday were reading about iThemba Pharmaceuticals -  a South African company that will benefit from the Pool for Open Innovation against Neglected Tropical Diseases, a new polio vaccine, a debate amongst NTD experts on the best sustainable solutions to control these diseases, and the current state of the elimination of malaria.

Pooling Knowledge for Neglected Diseases, Rianna Stefanakis & Don Joseph, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News WHO Says New Vaccine Could Eradicate Polio, Vidushi Sinha, VOA News Control of the neglected tropical diseases needs a long-term commitment, Yaobi Zhang, Chad MacArthur, Likezo Mubila, & Shawn K. Baker, BMC Medicine Malaria Elimination Impossible Without Vaccine, Experts Say, Maria Cheng, The Huffington Post

Localization, Transparency, and Integration Key Themes at UN Digital Media Lounge

September 21st, 2010

Oxfam and partners, WaterAid and the ONE Campaign, put on morning sessions at Mashable and the UN Foundations Digital Media Lounge, outside the UN MDG Summit. Photo Credit: Oxfam International

Its been several hours since I posted my last blog entry. What have I been doing you ask?

Watching. Tweeting. Talking. Thinking.

But mostly listening.

Read more: Localization, Transparency, and Integration Key Themes at UN Digital Media Lounge

Kicking off the UN Week Digital Media Lounge

September 21st, 2010

Im writing this as I sit in the 92Y theater in New York City waiting for singer Craig David to take the stage to talk about his role as UN Goodwill Ambassador for Tuberculosis. Im at the UN Week Digital Media Lounge, hosted by Mashable and the UN Foundation. This casual forum gives bloggers and social media enthusiasts like me a chance to gain access to the high-level discussions happening at the United Nations headquarters this week.

Read more: Kicking off the UN Week Digital Media Lounge

Reading List 7/9/2010

July 9th, 2010

Happy Friday! A short reading list today to send you off to a relaxing weekend. Today were reading about new drugs being investigated that would treat both tuberculosis and NTDs, prevalence of urinary schistosomiasis in pre-school children in Nigeria, and the amazing effects of Mectizan on river blindness.

Potential TB Drugs Investigated Against Multiple Neglected Diseases, Medical News Today Urinary schistosomiasis in pre-school kids in Nigeria, Robert Herriman, The Examiner Miracle Medicine Mends Nigerian Tailors Eyesight, The Carter Center

2005 Gleneagles Communiqué Revisited

May 25th, 2010

The 31st G8 Summit took place in 2005 at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland. Addressing global health issues was high on the agenda, and commitments were made to build upon efforts to tackle HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria basic health care, and of course neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). In fact, a pledge was made to Support the control or elimination of neglected tropical diseases; and reach at least 75% of the people affected by certain NTDs in the highest-burden countries. Despite these strides, four years later in Italy at the 35th G8 summit, new health commitments were not made.

Although G8 leaders reaffirmed their commitments to the pledges made in 2005, still more must be done in the upcoming decade. Activities that should be emphasized include investing in the control and elimination of NTDs, aggressively target issues in maternal and child health, and scaling up prevention methods and sustainable capacity building. To read more, and also to find out what you can do to get the ball rolling on these objectives, please visit

Reading List 5/24/2010

May 24th, 2010

Happy Monday everyone! Below is a brand new list of reads to start your week off! Today were reading about the possibility of parasites being a cure for food allergies, dengue fever in Florida, the announcement of the new Feed the Future program in Liberia, tackling TB in Mexico, the ongoing fight against childhood pneumonia, and lastly Dr. Peter Hotezs interview with The Scientist on his NTD debate paper that was recently released.

Hotez Neglected diseases: Teach or treat?, The Scientist Parasites May Cure Allergies, The Boston Channel Dengue Fever in Florida, Richard Knox, NPR Feed the Future, Charles W. Corey, America Engaging the World Tackling tuberculosis in southern Mexico, Sam Loewenberg, The Lancet The Fight Against Childhood Pneumonia, Traci Siegel, International Vaccine Access Center

More Pie for NTDs

May 19th, 2010

By: Alanna Shaikh

A new paper on NTDs covers the current debate on the best approach for combating them. Should we focus on mass drug administration? Environmental approaches? Horizontal programs? Written by Jerry M. Spiegel, Shafik Dharamsi, Kishor M. Wasan, Annalee Yassi, Burton Singer, Peter J. Hotez, Christy Hanson, and Donald A. P. Bundy, the article brings together respected experts on neglected tropical diseases to identify the most effective ways to fight them. Not surprisingly, these experts don’t agree. They propose substantially different methods to reduce the impact of NTDs.

 All the authors make interesting points. Jerry Spiegel, Shafik Dharamsi, Kishor Wasan, and Annalee Yassi are proponents of addressing the social determinants of NTDs, and they make some fascinating, radical arguments. They cite an excessive focus on developing new drugs, and state that it “diverts attention and funding away from complementary strategies needed to sustainably reduce disease burden…” They go on to call for a new financing mechanism for addressing the root causes of NTDs: “We propose that whenever a research program on an NTD innovation is funded, a proportion of the funding is set aside (‘‘offset’’) to address related socio-environmental and health system aspects.”

 On the other hand, Peter J. Hotez, Christy Hanson, and Donald A. P. Bundy argue for integrated control of NTDs based on mass drug administration. They couch their case in effectiveness terms “In terms of both health impact and cost-effectiveness, few other interventions can rival mass drug administration for NTDs, and increasingly this approach is being recognized for its beneficial effects on strengthening health systems, improving economic development, and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.” They then describe the progress made in NTD control as a result of drug administration. Their pick for the most effective approach is integrated control of NTDs; in other words, administering the drugs for more than one NTD at a time. That avoids unnecessary duplication of logistical and personnel efforts.

 Burton Singer, arguing for primary prevention of NTDs, has two excellent quotes. First, he points out that “You don’t find a demand for drugs to treat hookworm in the southern United States today, because an integrated program of drugs to treat infected cases and installation of toilets (a tool for prevention) as a route for human feces—initially containing hookworm eggs—put an end to the problem almost a century ago.” He goes on to state that “nearly half of the measurable population-level health improvements in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s were a consequence of positive inputs in water and sanitation, housing, transportation, and communication…”

 I have a tendency to come out of discussions like these agreeing with every side, and this paper is no exception. I am not sold on social offsets. Beyond that, though, I agree with everyone. Drug administration works. It works right away, and it can be organized with a minimum of host country capacity. If you want to make a rapid dent in the human impact of NTDs, mass drug administration is the answer. At the same time, primary prevention is key to long-term impact. Burton Singer is right -- we don’t have a whole lot of NTDs in the US, and it’s not drug administration that got us to this point.

 The thing is, the different approaches aren’t mutually exclusive. You can do both mass drug administration and primary prevention. In fact, that would be the best approach -- if we had enough funding for it. What we really have here is a more pie situation. And we can all fight for more pie for NTDs.

Alanna Shaikh is an expert in health consulting, writing about global health for UN Dispatch and about international relief and development at Blood & Milk. She also serves as a frequently contributing blogger to ‘End the Neglect.”

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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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