And just like that, I’m back with a new series! This series is super self-serving, wow that sentence had a lot of s’s. Anyway, as I was saying, this current series of posts will maybe benefit me more than you! I’m doing a master’s degree (yay) and I have exams coming up (boo), but I only have one exam (yay) and it’s for one of my favourite topics (yay), International Health. Which is a super vague title, but it basically includes all health issues that may ever be of international concern. I’m gonna use my wee bloggo to revise all the topics I’ve studied this semester, and maybe you’ll learn a little summ-summ in the meantime. Deal!
Okay topic number 1, because I’m a microbiology nerd at heart, is Neglected Tropical Diseases!
There are 18 of these diseases (all infectious) which affect those living in poverty much more than us lucky ones with laptops or iPhones. These 18 diseases regularly infect humans (over 1 billion humans in fact) and are endemic (meaning they are found in and currently causing problems) in 149 countries.
Sadly, most of these diseases are treatable and preventable through some pretty simple means.
- Controlling the bugs that carry the diseases (eg. mosquitos for malaria)
- Improving water sanitation (which would fix cholera)
- Delivering drug treatments better (which would make parasites not a problem)
- Training healthcare workers (which would help a lot of things)
So why haven’t we fixed these diseases, if the fixes are so simple?
Here’s the problem, most of these diseases make you sick, but probably won’t kill you. So historically, public health specialists have been like “let’s fix the killers first mkay” which is cool and stuff and really good, but that hasn’t helped these neglected tropical diseases which make life a hell of a lot harder. Here’s a statistic, between 15 and 30% of lost productivity is due to neglected tropical diseases (in the countries where it’s a problem). So if we get rid of these diseases, we will not only have more healthy people, but we will have more healthy people able to contribute to society! Not only that, controlling these diseases will reduce child mortality, reduce malnutrition, improve the health of mothers, improve school attendance and education, and reduce disease burden. Overall a big win!
So because it’s so bloody important, the World Health Organisation have a goal to eliminate ten of these NTDs by 2020. Specifically, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, soil-transmitted helminths, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, leprosy, guinea worm, visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas diseases, and human African trypanosomiasis. BLESS YOU. It’s getting there, and even better, because of this initiative, ten pharmaceutical companies have pledged unlimited medication until these illnesses are GONE.
Just briefly, here’s what these diseases do:
The real difficulty now is how to effectively deliver all these free drugs to the areas than need it, and for long enough that we totally get rid of these diseases. In an ideal world, we will do a few drugs at once, two birds one stones style. It’ll just take time, effort and probably A LOT of money.
So there you go, now you’re a bit more Learned on neglected tropical diseases, and I got some study done! Good one. Stay tuned for the next post which will be about something, I haven’t decided yet k love you byeeeeeeeeeeeeee (Git Lernt.)