SUNDAY, April 21, 2024

Siriraj faculty researchers up the ante in battle against neglected tropical diseases like dengue

Siriraj faculty researchers up the ante in battle against neglected tropical diseases like dengue

The Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, is working with international agencies to tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), especially dengue fever.

According to the faculty, 24 per cent of the world's population was affected by NTDs, such as leprosy, filariasis, tuberculosis and dengue fever. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of the global dengue fever cases were in Asia.

As many as 19,380 dengue fever cases were found in Thailand from January 1 to August 24 this year. Most patients were children and adolescents. During the period, 17 people reportedly died due to dengue fever.

The faculty's former dean and consultant, Prof Dr Prasit Watanapa, said NTDs are largely ignored by mainstream medical science because they do not represent clear viable commercial markets for the private sector.

This continues to hinder the progress in medical research and development, and therapeutic solutions, he pointed out.

“NTDs continue to affect one in five people in the world. A staggering 1.7 billion people affected are from the poorest communities," he said.

Prof Dr Prasit Watanapa

He said that collaborative efforts from individuals, organisations and governments were necessary to control, prevent and eliminate NTDs.

He added that the faculty had signed a partnership agreement with the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi) on January 25 to develop accessible and effective prevention and treatment for dengue fever for a period of five years.

"There is a long way to go, but the collaboration to tackle NTDs will never happen if we do not start and work together," he added.

Prof Apichat Asavamongkonkul

Meanwhile, faculty dean Prof Apichat Asavamongkonkul said they have set up strategies to eliminate NTDs in the next four years, including cross-sector partnerships, building strong political will and generating resources necessary to eliminate the disease.

He added that there is an opportunity to apply our collective knowledge in endemic countries to form collaborations to address NTDs.

"Collaborations to address NTDs is very challenging, but we can do it," he said.