THE G20'S SECRET SHAME

Many think that neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are exclusive to destabilized countries such as South Sudan, Somalia or Haiti, but recent analysis shows that most of the world's NTDs paradoxically occur in major G20 countries. 

As the G20 leaders prepare to meet in Russia this fall, Baker Institute fellow in disease and poverty Peter Hotez urges them to put this issue on their agenda and "aggressively implement programs of treatment and prevention."

Such efforts are not expensive and in most cases so cheap that they would not require overseas development assistance, Hotez writes in a May 17 Global Post commentary. "For example, elephantiasis, hookworm infection, and food-borne trematode infections -- mostly occurring in G20 countries -- could be treated through mass drug administration using a packet of pills mostly donated by Pharma and costing less than 50 cents per person to administer annually," he says.

Hotez believes these low-cost treatments are not widely implemented because "NTDs only affect the profoundly poor -- marginalized people with no voice and largely hidden from view."  If G20 countries take ownership of the problem, "I estimate that the world could see a reduction in up to three-quarters of the world's most fearsome NTDs."