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DEVELOPMENT REPORT - February 18, 2002: Infectious Diseases - 2002-02-15

This is the VOA Special English Development Report.

The World Health Organization and several other United Nations agencies are calling for a major new effort to fight malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS. These three infectious diseases killed almost six-million people last year. That is about ten percent of the total number of deaths around the world last year.

The W-H-O and U-N agencies released a new report at the World Economic Forum in New York City earlier this month. The document says that deaths around the world from malaria and tuberculosis could be cut in half by the year Two-Thousand-Ten. It also says the number of deaths from AIDS could be reduced twenty-five percent within that same time period.

The report is called “Scaling Up the Response to Infectious Diseases.” It calls for huge new investments in methods to prevent and treat infectious diseases. Officials say money is needed for research and to purchase drugs. Money is also needed for devices to prevent diseases, such as bed nets and rubber condoms. Bed nets prevent mosquitoes that carry malaria from biting people while they sleep. Men wear condoms during sex to prevent the spread of AIDS.

David Heymann is the head of the infectious disease program at the World Health Organization. He says that providing effective drug treatments is important for improving peoples’ health and economic well-being. Reducing disease can also help improve economic growth in developing countries.

The W-H-O report also describes successful health programs in developing countries. In Peru, for example, the number of tuberculosis cases was cut in half by increasing the treatment to control the disease. In Vietnam, malaria was reduced ninety-seven percent through the use of bed nets. And in Uganda, cases of the virus that causes AIDS were cut in half among pregnant women and children through the use of anti-AIDS drugs.

This new international health campaign is estimated to cost about twelve-thousand-million dollars a year. So far, officials say the campaign has about two-thousand-million dollars. The W-H-O says the campaign will need stronger relationships among governments, private aid agencies, and drug companies to succeed.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss.