The New York Times examines the conclusions drawn in a recent PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases editorial that the Islamic world is suffering from a "devastating burden" of neglected tropical diseases. "The article, a combination of analysis and editorial written by the journal's editor, Peter J. Hotez, shows that the member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC] account for 40 percent of the world's infestations with intestinal worms[,] … 20 percent of leprosy cases and 21 percent of blinding trachoma," the newspaper writes (McNeil, 10/26).
Despite such high rates of neglected tropical diseases in the region, Hotez writes in the journal, "no school of tropical medicine exists in the Middle East." He adds, "Establishment of such an institution in the Persian Gulf region in order to specifically target health disparities in the OIC countries would represent a breakthrough in medical and public health education in the Middle East."
Targeting neglected tropical diseases "represents one of the most cost-efficient mechanisms to improve health among the poorest people living in OIC countries and to simultaneously lift them out of poverty," Hotez writes. "Joint action between the G8 countries and prominent families and governments in the Persian Gulf, together with technical assistance by WHO and financial mechanisms of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases would represent an impressive beginning" (10/27).