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Capitol Hill Briefing Addresses Neglected Tropical Diseases

At a Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) briefing, held in conjunction with the Congressional Malaria and NTD Caucus in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, “U.S. researchers, pharmaceutical companies and government officials [said] they are making progress in an effort to curb [NTDs], but that they need more money and outside help,” VOA News.

Sabin Vaccine Institute President Peter Hotez said of NTDs: “These are not only the world’s leading health problems in terms of how common they are but they are also the world’s leading educational problem. Now we know there is actual evidence that chronic hookworm infection in childhood reduces your future wage earning by almost half.” Hotez added, “These neglected tropical diseases by their chronic long-term disabling effects are actually a stealth reason why the bottom billion cannot escape poverty.”

According to USAID’s Christy Hanson, the agency is seeking $155 million in the next budget for NTDs. “To wage an effective all-out battle against these diseases, Hanson said over $1 billion over the next five years would be needed,” VOA News reports.

Ken Gustavsen of Merck’s Global Health Partnerships program “cited a drug-based approach to combat river blindness in South American countries such as Colombia and Ecuador. ‘More than 40 percent of the area that was previously endemic in Latin America, transmission has now been eliminated,’ he said,” according to VOA News (Colombant, 6/10).