4 Tropical Diseases Vulnerable to Attack

Article excerpt

The World Health Organization suggest spending $1 per patient a year for 10 years on treatments.

Spending $1 per patient per year over the next decade could rid the world of four of the most feared tropical diseases, including leprosy, according to the World Health Organization.

New therapies, like a one-dose leprosy treatment that could be available later this year, and creative disease-fighting strategies in developing countries provide what WHO tropical disease chief Dr. Tore Godal calls an unprecedented opportunity to curb the illnesses. "There is a real historic opportunity now to eliminate these diseases so they will not haunt us in the future," Godal said. "If we don't do it, we may see drug resistance, and eradication will be more difficult in the future." The diseases are: Chagas disease, which has infected about 18 million people in Latin America and kills 45,000 annually. Spread by beetles, known as the kissing bugs, that bite people sleeping at night and drop parasite-ridden feces, the worms invade the body's organs, eventually causing heart failure. River blindness, caused by a parasite spread by black flies that has infected about 18 million people, most of them in Africa and Latin America. …