Posts Tagged Hotez

Scientific American Magazine Spotlights NTDs

December 17th, 2009

NTDs get major news attention in the January 2010 issue of Scientific American Magazine.  The issue features an article titled “How to Cure 1 Billion People—Defeat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)” by our very own Peter Hotez, detailing the disease burden of NTDs around the world, and the simple, cost effective solutions available for their prevention and control.  The article is an informative teaching tool for those unfamiliar with NTDs and also presents a clear call to action: now is the time to act to end the neglect of NTDs. Now, more than ever, the global health community is positioned to tackle NTDs. However, Hotez argues that despite enormous successes with mass drug administration programs and increased awareness and funding, we still have a long way to go to provide complete drug coverage for the billion or more people with NTDs.

Here is an excerpt of the article:

“In the north of Burkina Faso, not far to the east of one of the best-known backpacker destinations in West Africa, the Bandiagara Escarpment in Mali, lies the town of Koumbri. It was one of the places where the Burkina Ministry of Health began a mass campaign five years ago to treat parasitic worms. One of the beneficiaries, Aboubacar, then an eight-year-old boy, told health workers he felt perpetually tired and ill and had noticed blood in his urine. After taking a few pills, he felt better, started to play soccer again, and began focusing on his schoolwork and doing better academically.”

“The Burkina Faso program, which treated more than two million children, was both a success story and an emblem of the tragedy of disease in the developing world. For want of very simple treatments, a billion people in the world wake up every day of their lives feeling sick. As a result they cannot learn in school or work effectively.”

Visit our website to read the full article or pick up your own copy when it hits newsstands in January.

Night 3: Hookworm

December 14th, 2009

hookworm

By Peter Hotez, MD, PhD

President, Sabin Vaccine Institute

No, you’re not looking at a screenshot from a Steven Spielberg horror film.  That image of the white blob with teeth is a hookworm, an intestinal parasite that affects nearly one tenth of the world’s population, or almost all of the world’s poorest people (“The Bottom Billion”), and is the leading cause of anemia and protein malnutrition, particularly in pregnant women and children.

Hookworm is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions where the temperature of the soil is suitable for the growth of the hookworm larvae and many people live in abject poverty.

Hookworm larvae are found in human feces and transmitted to humans from contaminated soil through the skin, usually due to contact with contaminated soil or in some cases accidentally ingesting contaminated soil. Once inside the body, larvae are carried through the bloodstream to the lungs and mouth where they are swallowed, digested and passed to the small intestine.  There, the larvae mature into half-inch-long worms which attach themselves to the intestinal wall and feed on human blood.

Currently, there are efforts underway to reduce infection rates including improving sanitation by building or increasing use of outdoor latrines; educating communities on the causes and symptoms of hookworm infection; and distributing annual doses of donated Albendazole or Mebendazole.

It’s devastating to visit the endemic areas of the world’s poorest countries, to see children with profound anemia and malnutrition from hookworm is truly tragic.  I have been conducted research on hookworm infection for the last thirty years beginning when I was an MD/PhD student.  It is my dream and hope to one day see this ancient scourge controlled or eliminated in the low-and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

In 2000, I established the Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative (HHVI) to develop the world’s first-ever safe, affordable, vaccine against human hookworm infection.  A hookworm vaccine would help alleviate the worldwide suffering of more than a half-billion infected people, 44 million of whom are pregnant women; and prevent disease in 3.2 billion people that are at risk, and, most importantly, it would provide immunity against the infection and ensure that fewer and fewer generations are susceptible to infection in the future.

Obama Will Accept Nobel Peace Prize as Call to Action

October 9th, 2009

In President Barack Obama’s speech today, announcing that he will accept the Nobel Peace Prize, he remarked that “We cant accept a world in which more people are denied opportunity and dignity that all people yearn for the ability to get an education and make a decent living; the security that you wont have to live in fear of disease or violence without hope for the future.” At the Global Network, we are encouraged by this statement, because it reinforces that the Administration sees disease control as a critical global development strategy through which we can promote security and break the cycle of poverty and conflict.

President Obama delivers a speech acknowledging he will accept the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.  Photo courtesy of Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama delivers a speech acknowledging he will accept the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. Photo courtesy of Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

A paper written by Sabin Vaccine Institute President Peter Hotez and Global Network Ambassador Governor Tommy Thompson titled “Waging Peace through Neglected Tropical Disease Control: A US Foreign Policy for the Bottom Billion” articulates this theme captured in President Obama’s statement today.  The paper emphasizes that NTDs play a key role in destabilizing communities,  which also exacerbates poverty.  In order to heed President Obama’s “call to action” for a more peaceful world, then, we must work to control and eliminate NTDs and other global health problems around the world.

New data estimates 500 million in Africa Burdened by NTDs

August 25th, 2009

Centers for Disease Control lab tech Henry Bishop holding a mass of Ascaris lumbricoides worms, which had been passed by a child in Kenya, Africa. (Photo courtesy CDC-PHIL)

Center for Disease Control lab tech Henry Bishop holding a mass of Ascaris lumbricoides worms, which had been passed by a child in Kenya, Africa. (Photo courtesy CDC-PHIL)

An analysis published today in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases sheds new light on the toll that neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) take on sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with an estimated 500 million people suffering from these debilitating and sometimes deadly diseases.

It is appalling that helminth infections and other NTDs are having such a devastating impact on the poor in sub-Saharan Africa, given that we have effective treatments to alleviate their sufferings, said Dr. Peter Hotez, co-author of the analysis, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Distinguished Research Professor at George Washington University.  For $200-$400 million a year over five years, we could significantly reduce the burden of helminth infections and other NTDs from much of sub-Saharan Africa. Thats a minimal investment with maximum returns.

The authors note that NTDs in SSA may produce a level of disease equivalent to, or as much as, one-half and one-third of the regions malaria and HIV/AIDs disease burden, respectively, suggesting that the NTDs represent a formidable public health challenge in the region.

The authors also say that high priority must be placed on examining the impact that reducing helminth infections might have on malaria and HIV/AIDS. In many parts of SSA, helminths are co-endemic with malaria, worsening the course of the disease; in others, schistosomiasis causes genital lesions and may increase a womans susceptibility to HIV/AIDS.

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    • The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is an advocacy initiative 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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