PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
(Accessed 17 February 2018)
Modern Sunni-Shia conflicts and their neglected tropical diseases
Peter J. Hotez
| published 15 Feb 2018 PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
…Ultimately, we can look to science and vaccine diplomacy to promote disease control activities across the EMR and to build new interventions for preventing the spread of the new and emerging NTDs [19, 20].
There are several possible approaches to consider on this front. First, greater cooperation between the OIC nations could increase access to essential medicines for mass treatment of the NTDs, including intestinal helminth infections, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and trachoma. Today, in some of the African Sahelian OIC nations, only a small percentage of the at-risk populations (including children) benefit from regular and periodic mass drug administration. This problem could be addressed through increased financial support and technical cooperation among OIC nations.
In addition, there is an urgent need to create new vaccines for some of the NTDs and other poverty-related neglected diseases arising out of the conflict nations highlighted above. We need new vaccines for leishmaniasis, coronavirus infections, viral HFs, and other diseases. In terms of nations adjacent to Middle East conflict zones, currently both Saudi Arabia and Iran, as well as other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, have substantial capacities for vaccine biotechnology. We need to do better tapping into those strengths. In my role during 2015 and 2016 as United States science envoy for the State Department and White House, I worked to expand collaborations between the US and Saudi Arabia, now leading to joint scientific activities in the area of vaccine development. But such initiatives in the area of vaccine diplomacy need to be expanded. Could US-Saudi vaccine diplomacy extend to other nations? It would be worthwhile to also explore the inclusion of other nations in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, particularly those that do not have historical connections to Saudi Arabia. In so doing, vaccine diplomacy could become a key 21st-century theme to address regional NTDs arising out of conflict and to promote international cooperation in the region and among the OIC nations.