Heard an informative story on NPR's Morning Edition this morning that underscored some of the points made in our U2CanRocktheWorld series. These are devastating diseases that have simple fixes. There are fixes a small group can help implement, church-to-(developing country) church, equipping them to take it to their village.
Here are some highlights. Listen to it or read it here.
Parasitic Diseases Thrive in AIDS' Shadow
by Joanne Silberner
There's a category of illnesses in the developing world called neglected diseases — parasitic diseases that don't kill, at least not very quickly. Over the last 20 years, as the fight against AIDS and malaria captured attention and resources, these infections have been overlooked. International donors are trying to change that in Nigeria and across Africa.
...Though they infect about 1 billion people worldwide and most are easily preventable, many are not effectively treated.
..."We tend to focus on the pressing issues and then allocate resources," Damulak says.
AIDS and malaria — virulent killers — are his top concerns.
Lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, guinea worm, river blindness, leishmaniasis and the other neglected diseases are all disabling, in some cases permanently. But if they kill, it's only after years of infection.
These diseases are so prevalent they've become almost a condition of life in developing countries. The parasites that cause them breed in the water that people use for drinking and swimming, the water that stands in urban ditches and rural ponds and rushes in river gullies in the rainy season.
Near the rural town of Nasarawa North, young boys happily splash in a river that most likely contains the parasite that causes schistosomiasis.
A health worker gathers the boys and asks them, "How many of you have red urine?" Blood in the urine is a key symptom of schistosomiasis.
At least half raise their hands. And as they talk further, it turns out many of the children are several years older than they look...
Neglected diseases hurt people economically.... Neglected diseases can also be socially devastating. Health expert John Umaru of the Carter Center tells the story of a woman with lymphatic filariasis who was ostracized because of her swollen limbs. The grotesque deformity provokes irrational fear.
"She couldn't attend church services, people would be run away," Umaru says. "If she comes and sit down, a person might leave"...