Tropical diseases

Much of the media attention and a substantial slice of pharmaceutical research funding focuses on the fight against HIV/AIDS and other high profile infectious diseases. The need to combat these public health threats is of course critically important, but there are a host of other diseases which largely fall under the public radar, even as they have a major, debilitating impact on the lives of the poor in developing countries, including Asia and the Pacific. What I’m talking about here are so-called ‘neglected tropical diseases’ like sleeping sickness, soil-transmitted worm infections, elephantiasis, river blindness, bilharzia and many others.

These diseases are frequently ignored for a number of reasons. They pose no threat to developed countries, are typically not epidemic-prone, and are not preventable with vaccines, so attract little interest from drug companies. As a result, they draw little media attention. —