New Effort to Fight 10 'Neglected' Tropical Diseases
This is the VOA Special English Health Report, from http://voaspecialenglish.com | http://facebook.com/voalearningenglish A new campaign aims to fight ten diseases that affect many of the world's poorest people but do not get much attention. At the end of January officials announced the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases. The diseases include conditions like sleeping sickness, guinea worm and leprosy. They affect more than a billion people worldwide. The effort involves thirteen drug companies and the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and health groups. The campaign promises almost eight hundred million dollars for drug donation programs. Stephen O'Brien, a member of the British Parliament, was at the launch. He said financial investment and cumulative spending will increase five-fold, from seventy-nine million dollars to three hundred eighty-seven million dollars by twenty-fifteen. "That is four treatments a second," he said. The United States Agency for International Development says neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, cost governments and businesses ten billion dollars a year. This is in lost productivity and treatment costs. Dr. Donan Mmbando is with the Tanzanian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. He says, "The plight of people with the neglected tropical diseases is so real in my country. You need to see people with severe itching, lizard skin, which is a manifestation of river blindness." The declaration calls for control or elimination of the ten diseases by twenty-twenty. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, said, "Just think of the prospect of freeing millions of people -- most of them are children and women -- so that they could have a healthy and productive life."The Gates foundation is giving three hundred sixty-three million dollars to the campaign. There have been many campaigns before against these diseases. Dr. Neeraj Mistry of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases says those earlier efforts were not very effective because access to drugs was limited. He says now, with the increased support, "we can actually take the response to NTDs to scale, which means that we can treat more communities and more people." The thirteen drug companies have also agreed to share information that could speed up the development of new treatments. For VOA Special English, I'm Mario Ritter. For more health news, along with activities for learning English, go to voaspecialenglish.com(Adapted from a radio program broadcast 08Feb2012)
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