The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers is hosting an International Conference on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and rare diseases November 10-12, 2016 at the Vatican, “Towards a Culture of Health that is Welcoming and Supportive at the Service of People with Rare and Neglected Pathologies.” Sabin President Dr. Peter Hotez will deliver the opening keynote on NTDs, a patient with the NTD lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) has been invited to offer a reflection and the conference will end with an audience with Pope Francis.
Investments in research and development (R&D) are leading to tremendous scientific breakthroughs in health. Just in the last few years, scientists have made tremendous advancements. For several cancers, novel treatments have diminished deathly prognoses. New surgical techniques have reduced recovery time and leave scars smaller than a penny. Just within the last decade, the cost of DNA sequencing has declined so much that personalized medicine is on the cusp of becoming quotidian.
It was over fifty years ago now, but my mother Susan can still recall that dark, concrete hospital ward at what was then known as the Cincinnati General Hospital. At just six years old, she found herself in a white bed partitioned off from her neighbors by glass. On her left, a young man in an iron lung; on her right, a baby who wouldn’t stop screaming. She remembers falling dangerously ill in the summer of 1960 during a road trip to Williamsburg, Virginia with her family, and remembers the ensuing days of indescribable pain.
World Polio Day is a day to take stock of our remarkable progress and to rededicate ourselves to the eradication of polio.

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