Noting that an estimated $2 billion was spent on the U.S. presidential campaigns, Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine, writes in the Huffington Post "Healthy Living" blog, "Many of us in the global health community can only look upon that $2 billion figure in awe because of the potential for those dollars to be repurposed to immediately and dramatically improve the lives of the poorest people who suffer from disease." Hotez says neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) "are the most pervasive and common infections of the world's poorest people" and "not only impair health but actually trap people in poverty." He says the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases can provide pharmaceutical "rapid impact packages" that "can control or even eliminate many of these diseases as public health problems ... for as little as 50 cents per person per year, making NTD treatments one of the world's most cost-effective public health interventions."
"Even half of the $2 billion spent on the campaign this year could go a long way toward controlling and eliminating NTDs," Hotez writes and describes several programs that could have been undertaken using that money to eliminate different NTDs in numerous regions. With that money, "we could make a huge difference in the lives of the world's poorest people both in the U.S. and abroad and actually lift tens, if not hundreds of millions out of poverty," he says. "The $2 billion spent on campaigning is long gone, but with President Obama's next term, we hope to see a renewed focus on global health and development," he continues, concluding, "Through government agencies like USAID, Congress has recognized the need for more support in the fight against NTDs. We hope moving forward that U.S. government support will continue to grow so that in the coming decade we may see a world nearly free of NTDs" (11/13).
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.