Neglected Tropical Diseases Continue To Plague South Asia Despite Economic Growth
By Grace Liao | Health & Medicine
October 28, 2011
A new report showcases the disproportionately high burden of neglected tropical diseases in India and South Asia that continue to plague the 1.5 billion people living in the region.
AsianScientist (Oct. 28, 2011) – A comprehensive report published in the open-access journal Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases showcases the disproportionately high burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in India and South Asia.
These diseases of poverty continue to plague the 1.5 billion people living in the region, despite the World Bank’s recent report that South Asia experienced seven percent overall economic growth in 2010.
The report studied eight countries in South Asia – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, which represent almost one quarter of the global population, or approximately 1.5 billion people, two thirds of whom live on less than US$2 per day.
Co-author Dr. Lobo, consultant of the Department of Public Health at Manipal University, explains that this extreme level of poverty is paralleled by high rates of NTDs.
“For example, South Asian countries account for approximately one quarter of the world’s soil-transmitted helminth infections, one-third or more of the global deaths from rabies and one-half or more of the global burden of lymphatic filariasis, visceral leishmaniasis and leprosy,” he said. “These high disease rates directly relate to the region’s continued struggle with poverty and economic disparity.”
The article profiles several prevalent diseases in South Asia – including visceral leishmaniasis, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis (LF), and soil transmitted helminth infection – and emphasizes current efforts to control these diseases.
“Although comprehensive programs to eliminate some of the most prevalent NTDs are under way, national control programs for other NTDs need to be expanded,” concluded co-author Dr. Hotez, founding dean of the first National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine.
According to Dr. Hotez, mass drug administration for trachoma and the soil-transmitted helminth infections and vaccination against canine rabies are actions that need to be taken.
To successfully strengthen health systems in the region, he said, such programs require integration with improvements in sanitation and access to clean water, vector management, and improved surveillance.
Source: Public Library of Science. Photo Dominic Sansoni/World Bank.
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