At least a half dozen possible Ebola vaccines that have protected nonhuman primates are entering early clinical trials for safety. What’s the fastest way to determine which one is most effective?
By Peter Hotez and Jennifer Herricks
According to the latest (November 28) figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 6,000 people have died so far in the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, with estimates that the deaths will easily exceed 7,000 deaths before year’s end.
There is no question that Ebola virus infection is one of the most lethal of all of the neglected tropical disease (NTD) pathogens, but on a global scale there are a number of other NTDs that also cause large numbers of deaths.
The publication of the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 (GBD 2010) and the accompanying collection of Lancet articles in December 2012 provided the most comprehensive attempt to quantify the burden of almost 300 diseases, injuries, and risk factors, including neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The disability-adjusted life year (DALY), the metric used in the GBD 2010, is a tool which may be used to assess and compare the relative impact of a number of diseases locally and globally. Read the whole article here
Since the founding of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases more than six years ago, I have written about the interface between disease and geopolitics. The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are the world’s most common infections of people living in poverty. Where they are widespread in affected communities and nations, NTDs can be highly destabilizing and ultimately may promote conflict and affect international and foreign policy. Many of the published papers in this area were recently re-organized in a PLOS “Geopolitics of Neglected Tropical Diseases” collection that was posted on our website in the fall of 2012, coinciding with the start of our sixth anniversary. From this information, a number of new and interesting findings emerged about the populations who are most vulnerable to the NTDs, including the extreme poor who live in the large, middle-income countries and even some wealthy countries (such as the United States) that comprise the Group of Twenty (G20) countries, as well as selected Aboriginal populations. Together, the PLOS “Geopolitics of Neglected Tropical Diseases” collection and the G20 analyses identified more than a dozen areas of the world that repeatedly show up as ones where NTDs disproportionately affect the poorest people living at the margins. Here, I summarize what I view as ten of the worst global “hotspots” where NTDs predominate. They represent regions of the world that will require special emphasis for NTD control and elimination if we still aspire to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and targets by 2015; they are regions that may need to be highlighted again as we consider post-MDG aspirations and new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Among the unusual and striking aspects of global integrated NTD control and elimination activities was the exceedingly quick timeline between the time when the concept of integrating NTDs was first proposed and when implementation was initiated. The intellectual framework for a public policy for integrated mass drug administration campaigns that targeted the seven major NTDs simultaneously – ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, and trachoma – entered the biomedical literature in 2005. Within months a public policy was launched, and expanded implementation of this approach begun.