Infectious Disease Experts Applaud New U.S. Funds to Treat Long-Neglected Diseases of the Poor

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. Congress recently approved $15 million in new funds to treat several little-known but debilitating diseases affecting impoverished populations around the globe. More than 350 million people have been disabled or severely impaired by the targeted diseases, which include leprosy, elephantiasis, snail fever, river blindness, blinding trachoma and intestinal parasites.  Many more are and will soon become infected with these diseases, which contribute to poverty, social inequality and diminished productivity, at a cost of more than $10 billion annually.

"Congress has taken a bold step.  Fighting these diseases won't win legislators many votes or make front page news," stated Dr. Nils Daulaire, president and CEO of the Global Health Council.  "But this important initiative directly targets the suffering and disability of many of the world's forgotten children and families."

The new funds provide vital support to expand the reach of life-saving public-private partnerships between global pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, and Pfizer -- that have committed to donating the medicines to treat the diseases -- and a host of local and international agencies and governments.  U.S. funds will be used to extend and improve coordination of the treatment delivery systems needed to get medicines to those in need.

"These new resources will not only provide the much needed treatment of disease," added Paula Luff, senior director of international philanthropy at Pfizer Inc, "They affirm the value of public private partnerships and provide hope to hundreds of health workers and patients combating these diseases each day."

The Global Health Council is the world's largest membership alliance dedicated to saving lives by improving health throughout the world. The Council serves and represents thousands of public health professionals from more than 100 countries on six continents. Members of the neglected diseases workgroup of the Council's Infectious Diseases Network include American Leprosy Missions, Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, Human Hookworm Vaccine Initiative, International Trachoma Initiative, Mectizan Donation Program, Partners for Parasite Control, and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative.

Source: Global Health Council

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