[Ip-health] Eliminate the Neglect: U.S. Support Needed to Expand Assault on Neglected Diseases

Rachel M. Cohen rachel.cohen72 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 8 05:51:14 PDT 2011


http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2011/07/08/eliminate-the-neglect-u-
s-support-needed-to-expand-assault-on-neglected-diseases/

 


Eliminate the Neglect: U.S. Support Needed to Expand Assault on Neglected
Diseases
<http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2011/07/08/eliminate-the-neglect-u
-s-support-needed-to-expand-assault-on-neglected-diseases/> 


Posted on July 8th, 2011 by PLoS Guest Blogger
<http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/author/plos_guest_blogger/>  

Guest post by Bernard Pecoul and Peter Hotez

If you asked the average American if they've ever heard of sleeping
sickness, river blindness, or elephantiasis, you'd likely get a puzzled
look. But ask a Congolese, Sudanese, or Bangladeshi about these parasitic
diseases, and you might get a nod of the head or perhaps even a point in the
direction of someone behaving erratically and slipping into a coma due to
sleeping sickness, being led by stick by a child because of river blindness,
or barely able to walk due to grossly swollen legs or genitalia caused by
elephantiasis.

This weekend in Boston, health workers, researchers, donors, and social
innovators from around the world will convene to discuss current efforts to
treat patients and develop new drugs and vaccines for neglected tropical
diseases (NTDs) such as these. Most of us have never heard of these
diseases, although they are the most common infections of the world's poor,
debilitating or killing more than 1 billion people in the developing world.

This first-ever NTD meeting  <http://ntd.isid.org/> of the International
Society for Infectious Diseases <http://www.isid.org/>  offers an
opportunity for U.S. policy-makers and the public to better understand the
devastating toll these illnesses exact on the world's poorest and most
vulnerable people. It may also shine light on the commendable achievements -
as well as some limitations - of the current approach the U.S. government is
taking to tackling NTDs.

The elimination of certain NTDs has been set as a goal by the U.S. Global
Health Initiative (GHI) and World Health Organization (WHO). Great progress
in reaching these elimination targets is being achieved through a program of
mass treatment. To date, more than 100 million people have received access
to essential medicines for NTDs thorough funding from the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID <http://www.usaid.gov/> ).

However, for many NTDs, elimination will not be possible using existing
drugs because they are limited in effectiveness and safety, are difficult to
use, or come with serious concerns about resistance. Therefore, while
continuing to provide existing medicines for NTDs, there is an urgent need
to implement a parallel program of development, manufacture, and clinical
testing of new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines.

While basic research and early-stage product development is supported by the
National Institutes of Health and should continue to be funded at
ever-increasing levels, late-stage product development, including for drugs,
diagnostics, and vaccines, is urgently needed to bring new health
technologies through the "pipeline" to patients. This would help bridge the
gap between innovation and access and would align NTDs with other USAID
programs in malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis, which currently allocate a
percentage of their funding for late-stage product development.

Neglected disease researchers are trying to do their part. At the ISID-NTD
meeting in Boston, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases  <http://www.dndi.org/>
initiative (DNDi), a non-profit R&D organization focused on sleeping
sickness, Chagas disease, and leishmaniases, will announce the start of a
new project testing the drug flubendazole in people suffering from either
river blindness or elephantiasis. If effective, this drug could dramatically
improve case management and simplify mass drug treatment of patients
throughout Africa and Asia. The Sabin Vaccine Institute
<http://www.sabin.org/>  will describe new vaccines in development for
hookworm, schistosomiasis, and Chagas disease, one of which will soon enter
clinical trials.

Up to 600 million people are infected with hookworm and schistosomiasis, and
120 million with elephantiasis throughout the low- and middle-income
countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Another 26 million have river
blindness, while up to 10 million people have Chagas disease, a leading
cause of heart disease in Latin America.

The U.S. has led the way in ensuring the poorest people receive urgently
needed treatments for NTDs, while simultaneously supporting programs of
basic research. This commitment has spanned several presidential
administrations, receiving widespread support from both Democrats and
Republicans in the U.S. Congress. This weekend, we will join with other
leading NTD experts in Boston to call for the expansion of the U.S.
government's approach to NTDs so that it includes new investments in R&D to
develop and test new products for a wider range of neglected diseases. Only
then will we be able to eliminate the neglect of millions of poor people in
need and at risk.

Bernard Pecoul, MD, MPH is Executive Director of the Drugs for Neglected
Diseases initiative, and Peter Hotez, MD, PhD is President of Sabin Vaccine
Institute at Texas Children's Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine, and
Editor-in-Chief of PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
<http://www.plosntds.org/static/eic.action> 

 

 

--

Rachel M. Cohen

Regional Executive Director

Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), North America

40 Wall Street, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10005

Mob: +1.646.824.3064

Office: +1.646.616.8683

Email: rcohen at dndi.org

Web: www.dndi.org <http://www.dndi.org/> 

Best Science for the Most Neglected

 

 

 

--

Rachel M. Cohen

Regional Executive Director

Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), North America

40 Wall Street, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10005

Mob: +1.646.824.3064

Office: +1.646.616.8683

Email: rcohen at dndi.org

Web: www.dndi.org <http://www.dndi.org/> 

Best Science for the Most Neglected

 




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