A new public–private partnership could eliminate Brazil's "shockingly high burden" of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), says Peter J. Hotez in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Brazil has already taken leadership in eliminating its Chagas disease problem, he points out, and made great strides in controlling and eliminating lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis.
But most of the burden of NTDs in Latin America and the Caribbean occurs in Brazil, including virtually all cases of blinding trachoma and leprosy, and the majority of ascariasis, dengue, hookworm infection, schistosomiasis and visceral leishmaniasis.
Most of the country's poorest people — numbering 40 million — are infected with one or more NTDs and in the wake of a US$500 million government 'Zero Hunger' campaign the World Food Programme found that measures to feed children often simply result in feeding hookworms first.
Hotez says NTD control would be a highly cost-effective health measure and at a 15–30 per cent rate of return, a cost-effective anti-poverty measure as well.
Everything is in place for a nationwide effort: a charismatic president committed to the poor, some of the world's best disease control experts, the ability to innovate and produce "anti-poverty" vaccines and rich individuals, Hotez concludes.