Thursday, October 22, 2009

Progress in the war against invisible killers

In 2000, world leaders met at the UN in New York, to set up some Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be fulfilled by 2015. These goals included plans to eradicate malaria, HIV/AIDS, and Tuberculosis (TB). Upon reconvening in 2008, the assembly realizes the latter two of the 3 goals unrealistic and unattainable by 2015.

Malaria Current Goals: The leaders still seek to cut cases by 75%, 2000—2015, and malaria-caused deaths to zero. Progresses: Insecticide-treated use of bed nets has tripled in 16 of 20 sub-Saharan African nations since 2000. Free Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) distributed at all public health facilities in Zanzibar, Tanzania, has reduced novel cases reported by 70%. Genomes of three major mosquito vectors have been sequenced. RTS S vaccine is going into phase III trials across large areas of Africa. Problems: It has been estimated that $900 million more per year is required to develop vaccines and novel insecticides.

HIV/AIDS Current Goals: Universal access to HIV-AIDS treatment by 2010 Progresses: Rate of new infections fell from 3 million in 2001 to 2.7million in 2007. AIDS death rate dropped from 2.2 million in 2005 to 2 million in 2007. Approximately 3 million people living in low income nations are now receiving anti-retroviral treatments. World leaders pledged another $500 million to achieve goals. Problems: Demand for treatments far exceeds supply. Prevention is exceedingly difficult due to scientific, political, and cultural reasons.

TB Current Goals: Treat 50 million TB-infected people and prevent 14 million deaths Progresses: Incidence has slightly decreased. Global TB-prevalence rate fell by 2.8% and the corresponding death rate fell by 2.6%. Problems: TB detection is lagging, particularly in Africa, China, and India. Drug treatments are difficult to control.

Stone, M. 2009. Determined Progress in War against Malaria, HIV-AIDS, and TB. Microbe 4:115—118.

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