RSTMH Presidential Address to Highlight Disease Disparity

Press release 21 Nov 2007

David Molyneux, Professor of Tropical Health Sciences at LSTM and President of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (RSTMH) will use the occasion of his inaugural Presidential address to conclude that diseases afflicting the vast majority of the poorest populations in Africa and Asia are controllable but are largely ignored by policy makers and funding agencies.

His address to RSTMH this evening will look at Millennium Development Goal 6, which focuses on HIV, malaria and other diseases.  He will emphasise that donated or very cheap drugs are available now to treat some diseases completely, permanently improving the lives of millions of children and adults – at a cost of less than twenty five pence per person per year.  In some countries, the cost is as low as 3 pence.

David explained: "The address will contrast the spectacular successes which have been achieved in the less 'fashionable' disease control programmes such as river blindness, guinea worm, elephantiasis and bilharzia with the relative lack of success of the higher profile programmes such HIV AIDS. A gradual impact on malaria is being made but up-scaling the provision of new drugs and insecticide-treated bednets is well behind target.

"An increased focus on the 'other' diseases in the Goal is likely to bring the poorest billion people out of poverty faster and reduce gross disabilities such as blindness and disfigurement thereby increasing productivity. Drug distribution programmes delivered by communities or schools make children healthier and more able to achieve.  My argument will be that these drugs are cost-effective, sustainable and can achieve results within the timescale of the Goal with ends in 2015.

"Aliens approaching the planet would conclude there were only three diseases on earth – HIV, TB and malaria. The best example perhaps is in Africa where out of a population of 770 million people, some 740 million do not have HIV.   They have no voice and are off the radar screen in many countries where the ‘big three’ diseases dominate the priorities of donors and NGDOs.”



Members of the media are invited to attend the address at the Royal Society,  6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG, at 6.00pm.

For further information, please contact:

Professor David Molyneux Joan Fahy
Director Programme Coordinator
Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre
w: +44 (0)151 705 3291 w: +44 (0)151 705 3145
m:+44 (0)7780 991824 m: +44 (0)7780 722087