Science for the Poor: Making Vaccines to Combat Poverty

Is it possible to vaccinate against poverty?

According to the World Bank, an estimated 2.4 billion people live on less than $2 per day, while 1.2 billion live on less than $1.25 per day — a group often referred to as “the bottom billion”. We now know that almost all of the bottom billion and many of those living on less than $2 per day remain trapped in poverty because they are chronically debilitated by a group of afflictions known as the neglected tropical diseases, or ‘NTDs’.

NTDs are long-lasting parasitic and related infections such as ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, trachoma, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis. The major point is that these NTDs can actually cause poverty either because they make people too sick to go to work and limit agricultural productivity, or because they strike children at vulnerable times, thereby stunting their physical and intellectual development. NTDs also disproportionately affect pregnant women, making them ill and causing them to produce low birth weight or premature infants.

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