News / Africa

Members of Congress Urge Spending Boost for Neglected Diseases

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Members of Congress are calling on the U.S. development agency to increase funding for the treatment of four tropical diseases.

Thirteen lawmakers have sent a letter to USAID about leishmaniasis, sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and Buruli ulcer, which are in the group referred to as “neglected diseases.”

“We’re thrilled.  We’re absolutely thrilled,” says Jana Armstrong of the congressional support. Armstrong is executive director of the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi). She adds,” Earlier this year, they had offered to do this.”

DNDi had briefed members of Congress and the administration on the need for more funding.

Four of fourteen

Armstrong says the request centers on four diseases that DNDi and the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders have concentrated on in recent years.

Jana Armstrong, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative
Jana Armstrong, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative

“We would like that all neglected tropical diseases get included in the U.S. programs, but we can’t speak to specifics on the other ones because we don’t have personal experience as organizations.”

The World Health Organization lists 14 diseases as “neglected.”  It says, “They thrive in places with unsafe water, poor sanitation and limited access to basic health care.  Most can be prevented and eliminated.”

It’s estimated more than one billion people are affected.

“We pull those four out,” Armstrong says, “but also those four are what’s considered by the World Health Organization as the most neglected because they affect the populations that are somehow the most marginalized in many developing countries.  And three of the four are almost always deadly if not treated.”

It’s unclear how much extra funding USAID might approve for the neglected diseases because the of the recession, she says.

“It will be tough to talk about a lot of additional funding.  We recognize that.”

But she adds, “The most important is to get this issue recognized in policy and get Congress and the administration open to looking at neglected tropical diseases as a bigger picture than the seven diseases that they’ve chosen to focus on in the beginning,” she says.

Risky treatments

“They have treatments today.  They exist, but they really need new treatments.  Nobody has invested in this area for 40, 50 years.  You can imagine the kind of treatments that we were using 40 or 50 years ago,” says the DnDi executive director.

The treatment for sleeping sickness, for example, is based on arsenic.  

“When you’re weighing the risks of someone dying anyway from the disease or treating them with the easiest thing to treat them with, you’re probably going to treat them.  But you know as a doctor you’re going to kill part of the people that you treat.  So it’s not a very nice option,’ she says.  

Because victims are usually very poor, says the WHO, they have a “low profile and status in public health priorities.”  

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid