Focus on African AIDS, TB, Malaria Epidemics Diverting Resources from Neglected Diseases, Study Says
Focus on the HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics has deflected attention and resources from about seven treatable diseases that have a greater impact on health care and development in Africa, according to a study published in the November edition of PLoS Medicine, the Financial Times reports (Jack, Financial Times, 10/11). Diseases such as schistosomiasis, ascariasis, sleeping sickness, river blindness, elephantiasis, hookworm and blinding trachoma affect about 750 million people and kill more than 500,000 people annually in sub-Saharan Africa, the report says. However, these diseases could be treated at a cost of about $200 million annually -- a "fraction" of the $15 billion spent annually on HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria -- the report says, according to the Guardian (Jha, Guardian, 10/11). Pharmaceutical companies already offer medications for many neglected diseases at no cost or a reduced price, and the study authors said it would cost about 40 cents per patient annually to cover the costs of treatment and distribution of medications for four of the neglected diseases (Financial Times, 10/11). This compares with the more than $200 per person annually needed to treat HIV/AIDS, the approximately $7-$10 per person needed to treat a single episode of malaria and the $200 per person needed to treat a single episode of TB. The authors also called for more integrated programs to treat neglected diseases that make prevention against parasites as routine as childhood immunizations (Hirschler, Reuters AlertNet, 10/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.