By: Alanna Shaikh
The public discourse around the neglected tropical diseases focuses almost entirely on the developing world. We talk about the NTD belt in Africa, helminthes in Asia, Chagas in Latin America. We hardly ever, though, think about at the NTDs in the wealthy world. What do they look like, then, in the places we don’t expect them? According to Peter Hotez and Meredith Gurwith, not great. In a July 2011 article published in the Public Library of Science, they look at Europe’s NTD burden, and the results are frustrating but illuminating.
It’s an interesting view on our new world of wealth distribution. We’re moving away from rich and poor countries. What we have, instead, are rich and poor communities. And the poor communities of Europe, just like the poor communities of Africa – or the United States – are afflicted with neglected tropical diseases. They are truly diseases of poverty and not geography. More than 20 percent of the population of Europe – 165 million people lives below poverty thresholds, and that’s where you find the NTDs.
Eastern Europe and Turkey bear the biggest helminth burden, high enough to cause concerns about cognitive development among children. This stems from several causes. They’re the poorest countries in Europe, and they’ve faced the most hardship. The Balkans lost ground on health care during the extensive regional conflict, and the former Soviet bloc countries suffered as they tried to develop health structures without the leadership and financial support of Moscow. Read more: The Neglected NTDs
November 9th, 2011
President Dr. Peter Hotez:
What do schistosomiasis, cysticercosis, and lymphatic filariasis have in common?
Besides verging on the unpronounceable, they are all classified as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs are a set of diseases – seventeen, by the World Health Organization’s count – that collectively affect over a billion people, but have historically received little attention. The most common NTDs, including those listed above, are caused by parasitic worms or protozoa. Others, such as leprosy and trachoma, are the result of bacterial or viral infections.
Though caused by a range of pathogens, NTDs share some important characteristics. First, many are diseases of rural poverty. Most neglected diseases affect the poor in the developing world, particularly in Africa and Asia, but some have also been found in “pockets of poverty” in the United States. For instance, hundreds of thousands of Americans, most of whom are Hispanic immigrants, suffer from Chagas disease. Second, most NTDs cause bodily impairment and disability (i.e., they have high morbidity) but are not very lethal (i.e., they have low mortality).
November 8th, 2011
The global health community is working to develop new drugs to treat neglected tropical diseases; however, in some countries rules and regulations that surround drug testing could thwart such efforts. Despite this challenge, researchers are still hopeful, especially in India. In a piece published by Voice of America (VOA), Dr. Peter Hotez President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute identifies India as an IDC Innovative Developing Country where sophisticated biotechnology thrives. Watch the video below for more information or VOA News:
November 1st, 2011
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, the article entitled “A Disproportionate Burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) found in India and South Asia” discusses the impact of this group of debilitating and disabling diseases on the most vulnerable populations within India and South Asia. Dr. Hotez spoke with The Hindu, a daily newspaper circulated in India, about the state of NTDs in the region. Below are highlights from their discussion:
- 12 to 17 percent of all intestinal worm infections globally occurred in India and were often associated with hookworm, whipworm and the Ascaris worm.
- Economic loss attributed to NTDs is nearly $1 billion per year due to lymphatic filariasis alone.
- There is hope – recent successes include the deworming of 17 million school children in the state of Bihar occurring early this spring.
- Future successes can be achieved via public-private partnerships, coordination between government and private NTD treatment providers, and international collaboration among countries (a partnership between India, Bangladesh and Nepal in efforts to control leishmaniasis that occurs heavily on shared borders between these nations, for example).
Click here to read the entire article in The Hindu.