UN health agency chief hails funding boost for neglected tropical diseases

UN health agency chief hails funding boost for neglected tropical diseases

The head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed a new and significant infusion of funds for the integrated treatment of seven of the most important and neglected tropical diseases.

The head of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) welcomed a new and significant infusion of funds for the integrated treatment of seven of the most important and neglected tropical diseases.

United States President George W. Bush announced the new five-year $350 million initiative today, which will target lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, blinding trachoma, onchocerciasis and three soil-transmitted helminthiases.

“These are blinding, deforming, and debilitating diseases that affect the poorest of the poor,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in a statement. “An intensified attack on these diseases delivers a blow against the poverty of millions of people.”

She also lauded the “ambitious” new plan for seeking to control and ultimately eliminate diseases which have brought misery to so many for so long.

In partnership with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), WHO can begin steps to bolster treatment immediately, Dr. Chan noted.

With highly-effective drugs – which are safe and easy to administer – available, a mass prevention campaign similar to child immunization can be launched, she said.