The Economist: “A global attack on long-neglected tropical diseases is succeeding”

Through the persistent joint efforts of private entities, international institutions, donor governments and charities, humans are winning the fight against some debilitating, long-neglected tropical diseases!

“International institutions such as the World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO) teamed up with donor governments and charities. By 1999 the Gates Foundation, a charity set up by Bill and Melinda Gates, was funding work in lymphatic filariasis and schistosomiasis, a debilitating ailment caused by a parasitic worm transmitted by freshwater snails.

By then the long-running effort to eradicate guinea worm led by the Carter Centre, a foundation set up by Jimmy Carter in 1982, had gained pace. The worm’s larvae are ingested in dirty water and grow internally to as long as a metre; they emerge, agonisingly, through the skin over several weeks. The only treatment for an established case, even now, is to speed up this expulsion by gradually winding the worm’s emerging body on a stick. But public-information campaigns about the need to filter drinking water and keep sufferers away from water sources, where they might pass on the infection, have brought new cases down from an estimated 3.5m a year globally in 1986, when eradication efforts started, to 25 last year.”

 

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