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article imageFunding increased to fight neglected tropical diseases

By Tim Sandle     Apr 17, 2017 in Health
London - The British government has invested an extra £200 million ($225 million) into various programs designed to fight the world's neglected tropical diseases.
The term "tropical diseases" refers to a range of diseases that are prevalent to tropical and subtropical regions; moreover, many of the diseases only occur in these regions of the world. This is primarily because tropical regions do not experience a cold season, which can affect insect populations (insects, like mosquitoes and flies, are the primary vectors of most tropical diseases). With insect vectors, insects carry parasites, bacteria or viruses that are infectious to humans and animals. Most diseases are transmitted by an insect "bite" which leads to the infectious agent being passed into its new host via blood exchange.
Many tropical diseases are referred to as "neglected tropical diseases". The term neglected is linked to socioeconomic and political factors; many diseases have been neglected because they do not impact upon the wealthier countries in the world. Without an economic imperative, medical advances are achieved more through the university sector than by pharmaceutical companies. Here much of the development within universities is reliant upon government grants.
Neglected diseases do not generally refer to HIV, tuberculosis or malaria, which tend to receive major funding. The neglected diseases include Buruli ulcer (caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium ulcerans); Chagas disease (a parasite passed on in the infected feces of the triatomine (assassin) bug) and Dengue and chikungunya fever (viruses passed on by mosquitoes). Other neglected tropical diseases are:
Dracunculiasis (Guinea-worm disease); Echinococcosis (caused by ingesting parasites in animal feces); Endemic treponematoses (Yaws) (a bacterial infection, transmitted by skin contact); Foodborne trematodiases (parasite); Human African trypanosomiasis (African sleeping sickness); Leishmaniasis (caused by the bite of sandflies); Leprosy; Lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis); Onchocerciasis (river blindness); Rabies; Schistosomiasis (parasitic disease that alternates between humans and freshwater snails); Soil-transmitted helminthiasis (parasitic worm); Taeniasis/cysticercosis (tapeworm larvae infection); and Trachoma (caused by a microorganism that spreads through eye discharges).
To assist with the fight against such diseases the British government is investing $250 million in programs to fight neglected tropical diseases, which affect more than a billion people in the world's poorest countries. The announcement has been made in advance of a World Health Organization conference in Geneva on April 19, 2017. The conference is dedicated to neglected tropical diseases and their eradication.
Commenting on the funding, the minister responsible Priti Patel stated: "These diseases belong to the last century. They cause unimaginable suffering and pain to some of the world's poorest people, forcing them into a deeper cycle of poverty with no way out. Yet they are treatable. These diseases have been named 'neglected' for a reason, but I'm not prepared for them to be neglected any longer."
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