A Global Fund to Fight Neglected Tropical Diseases: Is the G8 Hokkaido Toyako 2008 Summit Ready?

  • Peter J. Hotez mail, or

    Affiliation: Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine, The George Washington University and Sabin Vaccine Institute, Washington, D.C., United States of America

  • David H. Molyneux,

    Affiliation: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom

  • Alan Fenwick,

    Affiliation: Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, Imperial College London, United Kingdom

  • Lorenzo Savioli,

    Affiliation: Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

  • Tsutomu Takeuchi

    Affiliation: Department of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

  • Published: March 26, 2008
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000220

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Let’s get the youth inolve in the fight against the Neglected Tropical Diseases!

Posted by Tamashiro on 21 Apr 2008 at 08:22 GMT

Dear Editors:

We have read with a great interest your editorial entitled “A global fund to fight neglected tropical diseases: Is the G8 Hokkaido Toyako 2008 Summit ready?” We fully agree that Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) have been forgotten for a long time by many people, especially in the developed countries. The NTDs are prevalent among people who live in poverty in developing countries. It seems to us that people in the developed countries have neglected not only these tropical diseases but also the bottom billion.

As you have suggested, we think that it is also important to establish a global NTD financing mechanism like the Global Fund, Polio Eradication, or Stop TB but with a modest amount of funds.

In parallel with the accelerated process of the establishment of funds, we must make all efforts to advocate the facts of NTDs through the creation of a global network for NTD control especially among the youth in the developed countries such as high school, undergraduate and graduate students. Even among medical students, few are aware that one in six people in the world is infected with NTDs, and 500 thousand of them die annually. The “10/90 gap” as emphasized by the Global Forum for Health Research needs to be advocated, where only 10% of the worldwide expenditure in health research and development is devoted to the problems that primarily affects the poorest 90% of the world's population. Very few students can name the common NTDs and know that they can be easily controlled or even eliminated. Almost none among these students have seen patients with NTDs during their trainings. Moreover, there are also even fewer health educators who are able to teach NTDs since they have not seen actual cases.

Acknowledging these facts and in relation to the G8 Hokkaido Toyaka Summit, we plan to organize a workshop on NTDs in Hokkaido University in the context of sustainable development and society. We plan to invite high school students from all over Hokkaido Prefecture to sensitize them about the importance of NTDs in achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable poverty reduction. A staff member of the WHO will also be invited to give lecture.

We believe that the youth is a strong arm in the fight against NTDs and it is our responsibility to sensitize them. From our experience, it is feasible to recruit some young students who will devote themselves in the study, control, prevention, treatment and care of patients with NTDs if they are properly exposed to the reality. We need to expand and broaden the foundation of young people who will have a significant role in the control of NTDs around the world in the future. In the long run, they will become an important and indispensable driving force of the Global Network for NTD Control in the future, which will in turn become the major contributor in the area of NTD control.

Hiko Tamashiro
Department of Global Health and Epidemiology
Graduate School of Medicine
Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan