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NTDs Among America’s Poor Populations Must Be Addressed

“[T]he number of Americans living in poverty is at an all-time high, … with close to 50 million people living below the poverty line,” Peter Hotez, founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, writes in an Austin-American Statesman opinion piece, adding, “We desperately need a national dialogue about the unique afflictions of the bottom 50 million, paying particular attention to their neglected tropical diseases [NTDs], which represent important stealth reasons trapping them in a vicious cycle of poverty” (10/26).

In a similar Huffington Post opinion piece, Hotez states, “It is easy to think that NTDs are nothing more than ancient scourges, confined to the pages of medical history books or, at the very least, the far corners of the underdeveloped world.” He continues, “But the truth is that nearly 1.4 billion people around the world are infected with these diseases and their occurrence in the United States is on the rise. We urgently need to raise awareness about NTDs and their impact on poor populations, especially in the U.S. We also need to conduct surveillance to accurately determine their prevalence, assess how they are transmitted in the U.S., and find innovative ways to control or eliminate these infections” (10/27).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.