Processing Magazine

WHO Estimates One Billion Suffer from Hidden Tropical Disease

October 14, 2010
The Associated Press reports, the World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion of the world''s poorest people suffer from neglected tropical diseases. WHO identified 17 diseases and disease groups present in 149 countries, with one-third of the 2.7 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Thirty countries have six or more of the diseases. In all, more than one-third of the 2.7 billion people living on less than $2 a day are affected. WHO said it can substantially reduce those numbers with the help of drug donations from the pharmaceutical industry, which announced fresh pledges. Two of the diseases, onchocerciasis, known as river blindness, and trachoma, a bacterial eye infection, cause blindness. Leprosy and lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis, leave victims deformed, hamper productivity and normal social interaction, Chan said. Sleeping sickness, or human African trypanosomiasis, debilitates before it kills. Left untreated, rabies is fatal. Novartis has renewed a commitment to donate drugs to treat leprosy, while GlaxoSmithKline PLC said it would expand donations of a drug to treat worm infections and Sanofi-Aventis SA will continue its support to help eliminate sleeping sickness and other illness. Also active in the fight are Bayer, Eisai and Johnson & Johnson, WHO said.