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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid