Good news on NTDs
October 7th, 2015
END in Africa congratulates scientists on winning the 2015 Nobel Prize in medicine for advances in NTD and malaria drugs. The project also salutes Mexico for becoming the third country to have eliminated river blindness, joining Colombia the Ecuador.
On Monday, October 5, 2015, the Nobel Committee of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm announced that three scientists who used modern laboratory techniques to discover anti-parasitic drugs long hidden in herbs and soil had won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Dr. William C. Campbell and Dr. Satoshi Omura developed Avermectin, the parent of Ivermectin, the medicine that has helped to fight river blindness (onchocerciasis) and elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), which can cause the disfiguring swelling of the lymph system in the legs and lower body. Dr. Tu Youyou discovered Artemisinin, a drug that is now part of standard anti-malarial regimens and that has reduced death rates from the disease.
“These two discoveries have provided humankind with powerful new means to combat these debilitating diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people annually,” the Nobel Committee said in a statement. “The consequences in terms of improved human health and reduced suffering are immeasurable.”
END in Africa’s Katherine Sanchez recently spoke with Health Reporter Linord Moudou on Voice of America TV’s Africa 54 News program to discuss progress achieved by Burkina Faso, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Niger, Sierra Leone, and Togo against NTDs as well as END in Africa’s efforts to support them.
Ivermectin is one of the key medicines that is distributed annually in the West African nations supported by END in Africa, during integrated mass drug administration exercises aimed at preventing and treating NTDs. Pharmaceutical giant Merck donates considerable quantities of ivermectin, a safe and effective medication used to fight river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, each year under the trade name Mectizan.
In related news, the World Health Organization recently verified that Mexico has become the 3rd country in the world to have officially eliminated river blindness from within its borders.
Mexico’s Secretary of Health, Dr Mercedes Juan Lopez, made the official announcement on Tuesday, September 29, 2015, during a press conference held in Washington, DC. Other countries that have eliminated the disease include Colombia, which was the first to do so in 2013, and Ecuador (2014).
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