Underreported: Tropical Diseases and Poor Countries

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today, nearly all of the 1.4 billion people who live below the World Bank’s poverty line are infected with hookworms or related parasites. We’ll look at the impact neglected tropical diseases, such as hookworm, has had on the world poorest countries with Dr. Peter J. Hotez. He is President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, & Tropical Medicine at George Washington University. He recently wrote the article "Gandhi’s Hookworms" in the latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine.

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Comments [3]

Adrienne from NYC

Thanks for doing this segment. Elephantiasis is a terribly disfiguring condition and devastating psychologically and socially as well as economically. It's almost impossible to treat (reverse the swelling) once it has taken hold of someone's lymphatic system.
It seems to me that lymphatic filiaris (elephantiasis) is the most neglected of all, in part because it's so intractable.

Prevention is the key. For only 50 cents a person a year, it's heartbreaking to think hundreds of millions are suffering needlessly. I'm so glad to hear about the fundraising effort!

There's a great local non-profit focused on research into the poorly understood lymphatic system and diseases. Learn more here:

Jan. 28 2010 02:00 PM

Thoughts on the claim (made on another WNYC show, Radiolab) that hookworms can cure a person's asthma?

Jan. 28 2010 01:35 PM
Gabriel from NYC

There is a chapter in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers about the effect of the hook worm on the American south. In it he said the south was less productive than it should have been because of the rural population having hook worms. From this discovery the outhouse was developed and hook worms were eradicated and the south became a more productive region of the U.S.

Jan. 28 2010 01:35 PM

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