Malaria and more
TropIKA.net continues to provide in-depth coverage of key meetings relating to the infectious diseases of poverty. The latest such meeting is the First Meeting of the African Network for Drugs and Diagnostics Innovation (ANDI).Malaria has been much in the news during the last couple of weeks. We have seen a three-billion dollar boost (2) to funding for the global battle against the disease and the launch of Global Malaria Action Plan (GMAP). A five-year plan has also been announced by the Medicines for Malaria Venture. The journal Nature has expressed concerns that basic research is not receiving enough attention (view link) but, as we note, basic research is only one of many issues that must be addressed.
A report from Médecins Sans Frontières (view link) sounds a salutary note; improved control programmes often fail to reach the very poorest people,unless diagnosis and treatment are free.While more funding is still needed, the attention malaria is now receiving does makes it quite clear that it can no longer be described as a neglected tropical disease (NTD). While the NTDs receive grossly inadequate attention from the international community, their profilealso may be starting to rise. A series of excellent films from the BBC (view link) is focusing on these diseases and will surely raise awareness. NTDs have even emerged as an issue in the debates between the two US presidential candidates (view link). O ne neglected disease in Africa, guinea worm disease (view link), is to receive new funding and it is claimed that could be eradicated within five years.It is too easy to think of NTDs as confined to Africa and Asia but they are important causes of sickness and death elsewhere. A recent article has highlighted the disease burden due to NTDs in Latin America and the Caribbean (view link). An encouraging development has been the announcement of plans by the Carter Center, Haiti and the Dominican Republic to eliminate lymphatic filariasis and malaria from the island of Hispaniola (view link), their last reservoir in the Caribbean.There have been other developments which have caught my eye in the last few days. Diarrhoeal disease is still one of the biggest infectious killers of poor children; rotavirus is often the disease agent responsible.
Many countries are considering whether they can afford to introduce rotavirus vaccine to their national programmes. A study from Mexico, which found that such a move would be cost-effective, is of great interest. The use of ivermectin in the control of onchocerciasis is now well established but a study in Ecuador has shown there can be beneficial side effects; the drug is also active against some soil-transmitted helminths.