August 26, 2009

Tropical diseases take African toll

An analysis has detailed the devastating toll neglected tropical diseases cause, with an estimated 500 million sub-Saharan Africans suffering such maladies.

Researchers said helminth (parasitic worm) infections account for approximately 85 percent of the neglected tropical diseases, which overall might be equivalent to more than double that caused by tuberculosis and as much as half of the area's malaria disease burden.

It is appalling that helminth infections and other (neglected tropical diseases) are having such a devastating impact on the poor in sub-Saharan Africa, given that we have effective treatments to alleviate their sufferings, said Peter Hotez, co-author of the analysis, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and a research professor at George Washington University.

For $200 million to $400 million a year over five years, we could significantly reduce the burden of helminth infections and other (neglected tropical diseases) from much of sub-Saharan Africa. Hotez said. That's a minimal investment with maximum returns.

The full analysis appears in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases