Spotlight on Zika Helps Neglected Tropical Diseases

By April 4, 2016 No Comments

From VOA Learning English, 31 March 2016

“The diseases afflict more than a billion people around the world but the media gives little attention to them.  They are Neglected Tropical Diseases or NTDs.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified 17 of them, including rabies, leprosy, river blindness, dengue and Chikungunya. About 534,000 people a year die from them, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

They strike the poorest people in tropical and sub-tropical areas, often with inadequate sanitation. They cost developing economies billions of dollars every year, according to the WHO.

Dr. Neeraj Mistry is the managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases at the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington. He said, ‘More than a billion people affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases don’t have anyone lobbying for them.  They don’t have any voice.’

He added, ‘Issues with the loudest voice get the most attention. That’s the way policy is made.’  But experts say that is changing because of Zika … Andy Wright is Vice President of Global Health Programmes at the drug company GSK.

He said, ‘Any situation like the current one with Zika puts a spotlight on emerging or relatively unknown diseases that have not attracted sufficient attention or investment.  There’s a global vulnerability to these diseases,’ said Mistry.  ‘It’s not just a function of poor countries.’”

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