global health

On February 7, The Lancet Infectious Diseases published an enlightening report on the global economic impact of Chagas disease . Chagas, a parasitic disease transmitted through insects called ’€œkissing bugs,’€ infects nearly 10 million people worldwide, including 300,000 here in the U.S. Some people can carry the disease without knowing they have it, while others can experience debilitating respiratory infections and potentially lethal heart complications. The study examines in detail both the global and domestic economic cost of Chagas disease, which rival better publicized infections such as Lyme disease, and illustrates the urgent need for research for new tools to fight this disease...
On February 4, Aeras released the results of a clinical trial of one of their TB vaccine candidates. The trial was conducted in South Africa with nearly 3,000 infants and while the vaccine was safe and well-tolerated, ultimately it was not found to provide protection against TB. Although the results were not what researchers had hoped, the trial was the first of its kind and proved that a large-scale clinical trial to test a TB vaccine in infants can be successfully run in a country with a high TB burden like South Africa. Researchers also pointed out that there are twelve other TB vaccines in clinical development and the infrastructure built through this trial can be used to test these...
On January 23, the NIH announced that a Phase I clinical trial for a dengue vaccine candidate has yielded promising results . Dengue is a potentially lethal virus which causes severe fever, headaches, and rashes. WHO estimates that 50 to 100 million cases of dengue occur worldwide each year, including here in the U.S., and has recently warned of the possibility of a global dengue epidemic. The results of the trial, in which 90% of participants developed some immunity to the virus, represent a significant breakthrough in the development of a safe and effective dengue vaccine. The vaccine costs just $1 to produce, making it cost effective and ideal for future distribution to developing...
In November 2012, the Hudson Institute and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases released a Social and Economic Impact Review on Neglected Tropical Diseases . The report, which was the culmination of a comprehensive research and policy analysis study, outlined the economic and social impact of seven of the most common NTDs including lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, trachoma, schistosomiasis, hookworm, ascariasis and trichuriasis. These diseases impose a huge economic burden by causing roughly 46-57 million years of healthy life lost due to premature death or years lived with a disability. The report also quantified the economic burden in terms of lost productivity caused...
On January 17, the Hudson Institute and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases held a briefing event to discuss their recently released report, Social and Economic Impact Review on Neglected Tropical Diseases . In addition to negative health outcomes, the report highlights the social and economic costs of these deadly diseases and argues that NTD control and elimination programs are a cost effective public health measure. For example, Michael Kremer, Gates professor of Developing Societies at Harvard University, discussed de-worming as an extremely cost effective development intervention. Several studies around the world, including in the southern United States, have shown that...
On January 16, Uniting to Combat NTDs released ’€œ From Promises to Progress ,’€ the first annual report on the London Declaration on NTDs. The report details the progress made by global partners that signed onto the London Declaration one year ago. Notable successes include leading pharmaceutical companies donating treatments for 100% of drug requests in endemic countries and the development of new NTD control plans in over forty countries. The past year has also seen regulatory approval for two new NTD diagnostics: a new test for lymphatic filariasis and the first rapid test for sleeping sickness developed by the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics . Alongside this report, WHO also...
An article in the most recent issue of The Scientist highlighted the importance of affordable diagnostics for global health. Although scientific advances have improved treatment options for many global diseases, a lack of effective, low-cost diagnostics hinders the health of many in the developing world. For example, medicines to treat HIV and tuberculosis have been life-saving for many individuals, but they can cause liver damage and patients on these medications must be monitored. However, the primary test for liver damage requires expensive equipment that is simply not available in low-income countries. To solve this problem, a Massachusetts biotech company, Diagnostics For All ,...
New Poll Data Summary reveals concerns among Americans about medical progress even in tight fiscal environment Alexandria, Va. - January 9, 2013 - America Speaks , Volume 13, a compilation of public opinion polls commissioned by Research!America, features timely data about Americans’ views on issues related to biomedical and health research. A majority of Americans (72%) say the new Congress and the President should take action to expand medical research within the first 100 days of the 113 th Congress. Public support for increased government spending on medical research holds particular relevance as Congress considers whether to further delay, eliminate or permit “sequestration,” a budget...
As we ring in the New Year, 2013 promises to be an exciting time to be involved in the fight to raise support and awareness for neglected tropical diseases. As the world becomes more interconnected and global warming changes disease patterns, NTDs are increasingly spreading across borders ’€“ including right here at home. For example, Slate recently published an article addressing the return of dengue in the United States . In the past few years, dengue has sickened hundreds in Florida and other southern states. Experts warn that the combination of the virus, a lack of immunity to dengue and widespread mosquitoes provide the perfect storm of conditions for larger dengue outbreaks in the U.S...
The U.N. has suspended vaccine work in Pakistan following the tragic killings of eight health workers during a three-day polio immunization campaign. Other health workers have been injured or threatened during efforts to deliver vaccines to children around the country. Polio is a highly infectious disease and can cause irreversible paralysis, but there is a vaccine that can prevent the disease. Coordinated efforts from organizations like the World Health Organization, Rotary International and the Gates Foundation have helped reduce the threat of polio through vaccine distribution and stronger surveillance systems. Thanks to these highly successful immunization campaigns, the total number of...

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Funding research gives all of us a better chance of living a healthier life.
Pam Hirata, heart disease survivor