Statement by the Sabin Vaccine Institute: A rare spotlight for a neglected disease
New York Times May 11, 2014 Front Page Article
Schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease transmitted by freshwater snails, infects more than 200 million people worldwide, causing horrific symptoms, especially in girls and women. Schistosomiasis is the second deadliest parasitic disease after malaria, killing an estimated 300,000 people annually, and has been linked as a co-factor in the spread of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa and the incidence of bladder cancer.
Despite its prevalence among the world’s poor, schistosomiasis has been largely neglected as a major disease by global media and policymakers. Yesterday, the New York Times featured a front-page profile of efforts to control and eliminate schistosomiasis as part of an examination of the links between the disease and HIV/AIDS.
In response to the article, Ambassador Michael W. Marine, CEO of Sabin Vaccine Institute, today issued the following statement:
“We applaud the New York Times for giving schistosomiasis the front page spotlight it deserves in ‘A Simple Theory, and a Proposal, on H.I.V. in Africa,’ by Donald G. McNeil Jr. Greater attention for the disease’s devastating social and economic impact on individuals and entire communities, and increased examination of its cross-cutting impact – particularly its role in increasing the risk of diseases such as HIV in girls and women – are crucial.
Currently, global partners are racing to meet the World Health Organization’s 2020 goal of controlling schistosomiasis by advancing commitments made in the landmark 2012 London Declaration on NTDs. To meet this deadline and sustain advances already made, we must all take urgent measures, such as expanding mass drug administration programs that treat and protect against schistosomiasis and other NTDs with safe medicines donated by pharmaceutical companies. Innovative partnerships that reach across development sectors and capitalize on cost-effective integration opportunities also will drive success.
Yet, we remain convinced that ultimately the world needs a schistosomiasis vaccine that can offer the promise of protection to millions of people worldwide and help achieve elimination of the disease. Under the leadership of Peter Hotez, MD, we are developing such an intervention through the Sabin Product Development Partnership’s Schistosomiasis Vaccine Initiative, a joint venture with the Texas Children’s Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
Our schistosomiasis vaccine will soon enter Phase 1 clinical trials, to be carried out at Baylor’s Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU), funded by the National Institutes of Health. Our schistosomiasis research and development endeavors would not be possible without generous support from Mr. and Mrs. Morton Hyman, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Michelson Medical Research Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital.
We are thankful for the New York Times’ comprehensive feature on schistosomiasis and hope that it energizes the NTD movement to drive momentum forward and overcome remaining challenges.”
Please click here to read the full New York Times article.