Diseases that kill world's poorest in retreat

Faith Castro
April 20, 2017

Guinea-worm disease, which is transmitted through drinking water, is now almost eradicated on a global scale, the World Health Organization says. Data showed that more than 60 percent of patients or 114 million people with river blindness have received treatment. "And because of that we have made huge progress", he said.

However, the agency warned that further successes will depend on whether more people will get access to clean water and sanitation.

Mr Gates said he was sure the PM would be "looking at her priorities" during the process of leaving the European Union, and said: "We are hopeful that the commitment to 0.7 per cent - and things like neglected diseases - stays strong".

Neglected tropical diseases used to be prevalent throughout the world.

"That combination has been extremely powerful and constructive", said Dr. Julie Jacobson, an expert in the field and a representative of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.

"Some of these diseases are on track to be done (eliminated) by 2020, some by 2025", Bill Gates said on Wednesday.

Helping lead the global effort against the diseases is the Carter Center, the NGO founded by former US President Jimmy Carter, who said: "We at the Carter Center applaud the UK's exemplary commitment to addressing neglected tropical diseases, such as Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, and trachoma".

"You know we're not going to hit every 2020 target", said Jacobson.

"I talked to the President about the critical role the U.S. has played in the great progress on HIV, malaria and reproductive health - and in terms of how strong health systems can stop pandemics".

"Cutaneous leishmaniasis, for instance". Both these forms of leishmaniases are transmitted by female sandflies.

Number of people requiring interventions against NTDs, 2015. "Some countries are actually doing fairly well", he said.

The funding will go towards the distribution of tablets to treat diseases and research into new drugs.

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Schistosomiasis is a larval worm infection transmitted by contact with infested water.

Furthermore, the number of new human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) cases have fallen from 37,000 in 1999 to less than 3,000 in 2015, while trachoma (one of the leading causes of blindness) has been eliminated in Mexico, Morocco, and Oman, according to the WHO.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said the joint approach will "build on the tremendous progress made to date".

Over the five day conference, governments and donors pledged US$ 812, with nine drug companies including Merck, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi pledging to donate drugs and treatments till WHO's NTDs elimination and eradication targets are met.

In 2012, partners endorsed a WHO NTD roadmap, committing additional support and resources to eliminating 10 of the most common NTDs.

Britain is to step up the battle against the scourge of tropical diseases with a significant increase in funding.

Secondly, he believes the richest parts of the world have a duty to be outraged by a set of diseases which only affect the world's poorest. The World Bank has developed a framework for infrastructure and social development.

"These are diseases of poverty and diseases of remote villages". In the Americas, only 25 rabies deaths were reported in 2015.

In sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 40 percent of these diseases are concentrated, the World Health Organization notes the development of non-toxic drugs for African sleeping sickness have reduced the number of cases of the deadly disease from 37,000 in 1999 to well under 3,000 cases in 2015.

Jacobson worries about potential barriers to advancement. The country gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 and experienced two years of peace, which was then disrupted by internal conflict and civil war.

Though this may appear an unachievable or hard goal, in fact, it's an easy "win" since the diseases are all treatable and preventable, she said. "Part of the reason they have been neglected is because they are in mostly tropical countries", he said. "I think if that were understood, more ministries of finance would be excited about it". Guinea worm, a parasitic disease, will also be finally eliminated.

Buruli ulcer: debilitating skin infection causing severe destruction of the skin, bone and soft tissue. "We thought we would have been a lot further with Yaws", said Engels.

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