Dr. Peter Hotez, a Fellow in Disease and Poverty at Rice University‘s James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, recently authored an article on how the Group of Twenty (G20) has overlooked addressing the rising rates of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the world’s poorest nations as part of this year’s G20 Leaders Summit agenda.
The G20 is the premier forum for international cooperation on the most important issues of the global economic and financial agenda, and is comprised of finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s most developed countries. Last weekend, envoys from the 20 nations met for the third time since the group’s establishment in 1999 in order to discuss the agenda for the summit this September.
In Dr. Peter Hotez’ article, he reveals that although the common notion about NTDs is that they occur solely in largely underdeveloped countries and remote regions, his recent analysis shows that most NTDs can now be found in the poor populations of the G20 countries. Hotez predicts that if these nations initiate programs to address these dangerous diseases, we could expect a global decrease of up to 3/4.
Emphasis was also given on how inexpensive these countries’ undertakings would be, such as including treatments for elephantiasis, hookworm infection, and food-borne trematode infections in mass drug distributions. A packet of pills, usually donated, would cost less than 50 cents to administer.
Dr. Hotez hopes that his own efforts to exhort the G20 to give some attention to these NTDs will make its way into the organization’s fall agenda for their next meeting in Russia. Progress on this pressing matter would eventually lead to saving half of the world’s bottom billion from severe poverty, and greatly contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and Targets by 2015.
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