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Call for action on fungal diseases

By Tim Sandle     May 7, 2015 in Health
Melbourne - A new campaign has been launched, designed to reduce blindness and death rates from a host of fungal diseases worldwide.
The campaign is spearheaded by the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI) and is called project ‘95-95 by 2025.’ It has been estimated that some 300 million people suffer from serious fungal infections every year, leading to over 1,350,000 deaths worldwide.
By calling the campaign ‘95-95 by 2025,' GAFFI is seeking to reach a point where 95 percent of patients with life or sight-threatening fungal disease are diagnosed and 95 percent treated. Currently the figures are hovering around the 50 percent mark, at best.
At greatest risk from fungal diseases are asthma, AIDS, cancer, organ transplant and corticosteroid therapies patients. The reason here, as this journalist has written previously, is because the “immunocompromised host, due to the weakened nature of the individual's immune system, the individual is relatively susceptible to a microbiological infection of the type that healthy immune systems can ordinarily conquer (that is they are susceptible to infectious agents in general and fungal "opportunists" in particular).”
The low figures are not due to lack of medical knowledge or technology. In recent decades advance shave been made in the rates of detecting fungal pneumonia and meningitis. Similar advances have been made with reducing the impact of AIDS-related fungal diseases, Furthermore, many anti-fungal medications are available, such as amphotericin B. Instead the problem is the lack of availability in many nations. This is either a problem of distribution or, as is more likely, a matter of cost.
GAFFI’s view is that the resource issue is important. However, the campaign group argues, there is also the matter of awareness with the seriousness of the level of infections being ignored by national governments.
A launch meeting for the campaign was held in Melbourne, hosted by the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology. Commenting on this, Dr David Denning, President of GAFFI, is quoted as saying: ‘We propose a systematic approach to greatly reducing deaths and disease from fungal disease, using tried and tested rapid diagnosis and antifungal therapy.”
The professor added: “We recognize that health ministers in all countries have many demands, but the loss of life and sight of the some of the most productive and active members of society, is economically and socially disastrous.”
GAFFI aims to assist in tackling fungal diseases by putting together a consortium of mycology experts, medical practitioners, drugs companies and health experts.
More about Fungal disease, Fungi, Infection, Disease
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