World leprosy day 2012

Today marks the 59th anniversary of a day dedicated to raising leprosy awareness and funds to help give those affected the treatment they need. Over 100 countries worldwide use this day to reaffirm their concern for those affected and recommit themselves to doing something to make a difference. Some churches offer a special service to mark the occasion.

World leprosy day is celebrated on the last Sunday in January, near to the anniversary of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, a man who was renowned for showing great concern for those affected by leprosy.

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LF: Lack of sex, role reversal and social stigma

That’s what sufferers of lymphatic filariasis go through every day.

A recent review looked at all of the research into the experiences of people living with  lymphatic filariasis (LF), or elephantiasis, and analysed the complexities of daily life faced by people living with LF-related disability.

LF is caused by infectious nematode-carrying mosquitoes biting a person, depositing parasites on the skin which get inside the body, grow and spread into part of the immune system called lymph tissue.

WHO defines disability in general as “a complex phenomenon, reflecting an interaction between features of a person’s body and features of the society in which he or she lives”, as it is a result of the disease and impairment themselves, but also disruptions caused to lifestyle and standard of living.

120 million people worldwide live with the burden of LF,  40 million of whom live with chronic disabling effects as a result of this parasitic disease, according to WHO.

WHO regards LF as the leading cause of physical disability in the world.

Researchers reporting in the journal PLOS Neglected Diseases reviewed qualitative data from the sufferers themselves and this is what they found.

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This week in NTDs

Gilead Sciences announces a five-year partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) that aims to tackle visceral leishmaniasis (VL). The agreement will see the pharmaceutical company donating 445,000 vials of the drug AmBisome, which has been recommended as the safest, most effective treatment for VL. VL is widespread in South Asia and the Horn of Africa and has a mortality rate of almost 100 percent if it is not treated. Continue reading

This Week in NTDs

What are the thirty ways to live longer? Well, the Telegraph publishes an article this week answering this question. Most of the suggestions are closely linked to the spread of NTD infection. Most critically, at 21, “say no to sandflies” discusses the prevalence of Leishmaniasis and the dangers it proposes.

EndtheNeglect reports on the reemergence of Schistosomiasis in China. They reflect on the reasons for the disease’s return and key issues that need to be considered before action can be taken this time around.

An ex-malaria eradication worker discusses how to combat dengue. This interesting article looks at dengue fever’s spread and how this is key to organising eradication campaigns. Apparently  measures must be taken quickly before outbreaks result in “non-availability of agricultural and industrial labour, crippling the country and ruining its economy”.

Reports from a symposium at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (which started on Monday 14th October) have suggested that a dengue vaccine under development at the moment should be ready in six years time.

Climate change to put 77 million more people at risk of fly disease

Up to 77million more people could be at an increased risk of contracting sleeping sickness as the tsetse fly, which transmits the disease, spreads due to global warming.

A picture of the tsetse fly which carries the parasites that cause sleeping sicknessA study looked at common strains of tsetse and the parasite it carries, which currently affects 36 sub-Saharan African countries. Results showed the sleeping sickness-carrying fly will spread into Southern Africa and surrounding areas as temperatures rise.

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“I got worms”: Soil-transmitted helminths digest

Infection-carrying worms can get into our bodies, set up shop in our intestines and suck our blood. This family of dangerous parasites, and the infection they carry, are the reason why there are children who are eating enough but are still malnourished.

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Disproportionate NTD burden in South Asia

A map of South Asia

A study has found that there is a lack of Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) management in the South Asia, with only one country in the region reaching targets of eliminating soil-transmitted helminth infections.

The comprehensive review published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases recommends that all NTD intervention programs in eight South Asian countries need to be improved to reduce the problem, which affects billions of people. Continue reading