Microbiology - Background
It is estimated that one sixth of the world’s population suffer from one or more neglected tropical disease (NTDs). Often, those populations most affected are also the poorest and most vulnerable, for whom sickness can take a huge toll on their ability to make a living.
Effective, inexpensive drugs are available for the prevention and control of many of these diseases, and the WHO urges the development of simple diagnostic tools and safe and effective treatment regimens for these diseases. MORU works on many different NTDs, including Dengue Fever, Staphylococcal infections, Leptospirosis, Scrub Typhus and other Rickettsial diseases, and Melioidosis.
- accurate diagnosis (eg - many fevers assumed to be malaria when they are actually something else, so treatment ineffective)
- diagnostics need to be affordable and well-adapted to resource-poor settings (eg issues around refrigeration facilities) – can have big impact on accessibility in rural areas
- important to understand the incidence of different infectious diseases in different localities (ie not uniform disease distribution across all of SE Asia) to understand what are the main problem diseases in a particular area (helps narrow down diagnosis)
- some diseases considered obscure, but actually highly significant eg Melioidosis – high case fatality rate, bioweapon potential, treatment takes a long time and expensive, heavily under recorded (eg recently diagnosed in Cambodian children – only found because specifically looked for)
- importance of monitoring for emerging infectious diseases