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Two neglected Tropical Diseases Elephantiasis and Trachoma on Track for Eradication in 4 Years in the World’s poorest Countries

Thanks to the partnership of the government, pharmaceutical companies and charitable foundations, by the year 2020, two tropical diseases will be eradicated

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WASHINGTON, October 14, 2016: By the year 2020, two neglected tropical diseases, lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis, and trachoma, a blinding illness, may be eliminated in the world’s poorest countries, thanks to a partnership of governments, charitable foundations and pharmaceutical companies.

The U.S. provides the most funding for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases, through the U.S. Agency for International Development. That funding, between 2006 and today, has provided 1.6 billion treatments in about 30 countries.

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“In the areas that USAID has supported,” NTD program coordinator Emily Wainwright said, “there are going to be 400 million people who don’t have to worry about getting lymphatic filariasis again. We will have addressed that problem. And there will be about 184 million people who aren’t going to have to worry about getting trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness.”

According to the World Health Organization, neglected tropical diseases affect an estimated 1.5 billion people in the poorest countries.

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Other diseases that are targeted for elimination include onchocerciasis, known as river blindness, schistosomiasis or snail fever, which causes intestinal and urogenital infections, and soil-transmitted helminthiasis, a systemic illness that causes diarrhoea, fever, fatigue and malnutrition.

Children are disproportionately affected by the parasitic and bacterial illnesses, which stunt growth and affect brain development.

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Recently, WHO released data showing that in 2015, 979 million people received preventive chemotherapy for neglected tropical diseases, an increase of 121 million from 2014.

More diseases are predicted to follow the path of elimination, according to Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for Global Health, Child and Maternal Survival Coordinator at USAID.

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“Just like in polio,” he said, “which is in the last battle of the disease to remove from the face of the Earth, or leprosy, which is down 95 percent [from] the levels we used to have 50 years ago, these diseases we are in a position right now … to end all of the diseases of extreme poverty by 2030.”

USAID’s Neglected Tropical Disease Program and the WHO have put a priority on eliminating 17 NTDs in 149 countries, where one in six people suffer from at least one of the illnesses. (VOA)

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Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016

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Measles Victims Dropped
Foriza Begum, background, a newly arrived Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, reacts to her daughter Nosmin Fatima's scream as she receives a vaccination to prevent measles and rubella at a makeshift medical center in Teknaf, Bangladesh. VOA
  • Latest reports of WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped.
  • As per experts, a number of people who died from measles in 2016 were about 90,000, compared to 550,000 in 2000.

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped 84 percent since the beginning of a global vaccination campaign in 2000.

Experts say the number of people who died from the disease in 2016 was about 90,000, compared to more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time that worldwide measles deaths have fallen to less than 100,000 per year.

Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative at the CDC, said in a statement that “saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime.”

Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been administered to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns. The disease is contagious through air particles and can spread quickly. The disease kills more people every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

But the WHO says the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Since 2009, officials have managed to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to 85 percent of the babies who need it, but there has been no improvement in that rate in eight years. And only 64 percent of the affected population has gotten the second dose, which comes when a child is four or five years old.

The WHO says “far too many children” — about 20.8 million — have not had their first vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness.(VOA)