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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Visit us through SCI

There is now a new route to our blog through SCI (the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative).

SCI has been rated one of the top two charities for achieving impact with donations by nonprofit organisation GiveWell and Giving What We Can. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded SCI $1.5 million to improve control of schistosomiasis last year. They are a fantastic, cost-effective charity that’s worth taking a look at.

We have interviews with Professor Alan Fenwick, Director of SCI, and Professor David Molyneux, adviser to WHO, who have both been working on NTDs for over 25 years coming up in the next few weeks. A brilliant insight into how the world of NTDs has evolved.

Next week we’ll be live-blogging and tweeting from the Royal College of Physicians for the WHO event: Uniting to combat neglected tropical diseases which will feature Bill GatesDirector-General of WHO Dr. Margaret ChanManaging Director of the World Bank Dr. Caroline Anstey, and CEOs of nine leading pharmaceutical companies to name a few!

Stay tuned.

Schistosomiasis Initiative homepage

Schistosomiasis Initiative homepage

Double blow for dengue

Nicaraguan children provided data for the study

Nicaraguan children provided data for the study

The reason dengue fever can be more severe a second time round is due to the genetic make-up of the virus, researchers at Berkeley have found. The results may help predict outbreaks of dengue and allow future treatments to be better targeted. Continue reading

Next day delivery not guaranteed

Just like shopping online for Christmas presents, the real hassle with providing drugs for NTDs is not finding the right supplier or best cost, it’s ensuring they arrive on time and in optimal condition. Pharmaceutical companies may have pledged billions of free vaccines for diseases in developing countries but these drugs cannot travel on good will alone. Continue reading

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