Two years ago, the Global Health Council organized the 4th Annual Beth Waters Memorial Lecture in Philadelphia, PA. I had the opportunity to attend the lecture after my participation in the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Annual Meeting. The featured speaker, Dr. Peter Hotez, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, delivered an engaging and passionate lecture on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), poverty and drug availability.
According to Dr. Hotez, NTDs are the common infections of the world’s poorest people. He emphasized the availability of drugs to reduce burden of disease for 50 cents a person per year. This is considered one of the very best buys of global public health, said Dr. Hotez. He stated that this network was launched at the Clinton Global Initiative because President Clinton decided that NTDs needed attention. Moreover, Dr. Hotez stressed that nobody is really dying from NTDs which is a difficult message to convey to global health policy makers and get NTDs more attention.
Since NTDs affect the world’s poorest people, they subsequently keep these people trapped in a cycle of poverty. In addition to providing treatment and prevention drugs to millions affected by NTDs, poverty needs to be confronted in these communities. There is no reason why a person should not have access to clean drinking water or inexpensive medications. I am always amazed at the lives of two people from different socioeconomic backgrounds in the same country. Both people contact the same disease but one dies from it due to inadequate resources. While vaccine development is important, organizations should find ways to alleviate poverty from these communities. You can watch the lecture here: