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