Because the transatlantic slave trade was probably responsible for the introduction of lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and onchocerciasis to the New World, the West should commit to the eradication of the three diseases, say Patrick J. Lammie, John F. Lindo, W. Evan Secor, Javier Vasquez, Steven K. Ault and Mark L. Eberhard in this PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases article.
They say lymphatic filariasis in the Western Hemisphere is now limited to Brazil, Dominican Republic, Guyana and Haiti, and that although it is declining, eradication programmes are short of resources.
And while schistosomiasis has decreased and fatal infections are uncommon, anaemia and other side-effects in children are increasingly recognised as public health problems. Onchocerciasis is limited to six Latin American countries.
Although the situation in Latin America is much more promising than that in Africa, together the three diseases still represent a threat to millions of people in Latin America, say the authors.
Eliminating three of the lasting legacies of slavery, they argue, is a worthy public health goal and represents "a continuation of the efforts and struggles for justice of those who suffered the inhumanity of slavery and of those who worked to halt the slave trade 200 years ago."