In his latest blog entry as Co-Editor in Chief of the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dr. Peter Hotez applauds G20 finance ministers who at a meeting in Australia on February 23 announced an ambitious initiative to increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by at least $2 trillion over the next five years, citing a Canadian Press report saying that the centerpiece of the $2 trillion commitment made at the Sydney meeting is to boost the combined gross domestic product of G-20 countries by 2 percent above levels expected for the next five years, possibly creating tens of millions of new jobs.
The article notes that, according to the G20, world GDP was about $72 trillion in 2012, a figure that includes the world’s major industrialized and developing countries, such as the United States, Saudi Arabia and China, which represents about 85 percent of the global economy.
To achieve their target, the ministers propose to shape and implement new policies aimed at increasing investment and employment, and promoting competition and trade. However, Dr. Hotez, who is Dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Baylor College of Medicine Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, observes that thus far, there has been no mention of addressing health as a means to promote economic development among the G20 nations, even though he says we learned more than a decade ago from the Health Organization’s Report of the Commission on Macroeconomics and Health led by Jeffrey Sachs, that diseases are actually a cause of poverty. Those findings provided the basis for disease targets that were added to the Millennium Development Goals.
In an analysis published last year in PLOS NTDs Dr. Hotez says he found a surprising number of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs, defined as a group of 17 major chronic, debilitating, and mostly parasitic infections – among the poor living even in G20 countries. Indeed, he says, most of the world’s worst-case NTDs (as measured in disability-adjusted life years) including Chagas disease, food-borne trematodiases, leishmaniasis, leprosy, and lymphatic filariasis can be found in G20 countries (together with Nigeria), as well as almost one-half of the hookworm cases.
Read more about Dr. Peter Hotez.
Dr. Hotez further observes that based on additional new data coming out of Oxford University, many of the world’s dengue fever cases are also among the G20. Consequently he says, with the exception of a few NTDs such as African trypanosomiasis, onchocerciasis, and schistosomiasis, which are overwhelmingly sub-Saharan African diseases, NTDs are mostly G20 problems. That includes the United States, where he has found widespread NTDs in the midst of southern poverty.
“So why should the G20 finance ministers care?” Dr. Hotez asks rhetorically. “We know that actually cause poverty because of their adverse effects on worker productivity, child development, and the health of girls and women. For example we found recently that Chagas disease, a parasitic disease of the heart, is widespread in the G20 countries of Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, US, and elsewhere in the Americas where it accounts for $7 billion in economic losses each year, while Lymphatic filariasis and hookworm, both widespread in the Asian G20 countries, cause massive economic losses through the mechanisms outlined above.”
Read other articles related to Dr. Peter Hotez:
[feed url=”http://bionews-tx.com/news/news-tags/dr-peter-hotez/feed” number=”5″ ]
A New Analysis Framework: The Poor Living Among The Wealthy
In a 2013 PLOS journal paper titled “Blue Marble Health”—Neglected Tropical Disease Control and Elimination in a Shifting Health Policy Landscape.” (PLoS Negl Trop Dis 7(11): e2570. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0002570), Dr. Hotez notes that even the new United Nations resolutions on women and the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have not yet embraced NTDs, which may actually be the most common afflictions of girls and women and represent a stealth cause of NCDs. He also points out that NTDs have important direct and collateral effects on HIV/AIDS and malaria, and that there is now a robust evidence base and rationale for incorporating NTDs into the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. “Blue marble health” is an added concept that recognizes a paradoxical NTD disease burden among the poor living in G20 and other wealthy countries, acknowledgment of which would require these nations to take greater ownership for both disease control and research and development. He maintains that as we advance past the year 2015, it will be essential to incorporate global NTD elimination into newly proposed Sustainable Development Goals.
In PLOS NTDs, Dr. Hotez had previously stated that “a substantial portion of the world’s NTDs, up to one-half, or more, in some cases, may be eliminated if each of the G20 countries would assume greater responsibility for their own NTD problem and expand their indigenous control and elimination efforts”. He says he’s now upping the ante, and stating that doing so would simultaneously help the G20 finance ministers achieve their economic targets.
He observes that NTD control and elimination of course won’t be an easy sell to the G20 finance ministers, but maintains that it is an important message to transmit “down under” sometime before November of this year.
More About Peter Hotez
Peter Hotez MD, Ph.D., is Co-Editor in Chief of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, President, Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, and Fellow in Disease and Poverty, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, Houston, Texas, United States of America. He is the author of Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases (ASM Press), Second Edition. Follow Prof. Hotez on Twitter @PeterHotez
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Baylor College of Medicine
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases