A study published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Disease on Tuesday examines the relationship between political conflict in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and "the spread or re-emergence of a variety of tropical diseases -- some previously eliminated or controlled -- affecting an estimated 65 million people" in the region, VOA News reports (Sinha, 3/1). "The report, authored by global health leaders Dr. Peter Hotez, Dr. Lorenzo Savioli and professor Alan Fenwick, reveals the high prevalence and uneven distribution of [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)] such as schistosomiasis, lymphatic filiariasis, dengue fever and Rift Valley fever in the MENA region and suggests opportunities for NTD control, especially in high-risk populations in Egypt and Yemen," the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases writes in an article on its website.
"The ongoing instability in this region encourages populations to migrate, which spreads diseases that were once controlled. Conflict also stymies opportunities for regionally based research and development, education programs and public health initiatives that could help prevent disease and lift people out of extreme poverty," Hotez said, according to the article (2/28). "Hotez said the immediate strategy for controlling the rising infection rate is to step up mass drug administration efforts, especially for schistosomiasis, intestinal helminthes infections, and leprosy," VOA notes, adding that Julie Jacobson, senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, "said the research points to a public health problem seen in many conflict-ridden countries, and it underscores the need for vigilance" (3/1).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.