by academician Professor Emeritus Dato Dr. C.P.Ramachandran FASc.
The Desire for a Healthier and a better World in which to live our lives, and raise our children is common to all people and to all generations. As we enter the 21st Century, our past achievements and technological advances makes us more optimistic about or future than perhaps at ay stage in recent history.
However, Infectious Tropical Diseases are still the World’s biggest killers of children and young adults. For those living in developing countries, among the poorest of the poor, no matter what their age, the risk of death and disability is always many times higher than those living in the developed world. Over 500 million people on earth, that is one living person in ten, suffer from one or more of the major Infectious Tropical Diseases.
While health globally has steadily improved over the years, on the other hand many people living in poorer countries have seen little, if any, improvement at all. The gaps between the health status of rich and poor are at least as wide as they were half a century ago, and are becoming wider still. Despite this, the most important pattern of progress now emerging in general-globally is the unmistakable trend towards healthier and longer life.
The spectacular unveiling of the Human Genome in 1999 and subsequent mapping has totally revolutionized our thoughts and understanding of diseases and their treatment. I believe this century will be the biological age where we will see efforts of genetic revolution and molecular medicine, bringing positive results towards disease control - particularly Tropical Infectious Disease Control. The Millennium Declaration adopted by World Leaders at the United Nations in September 2000, establishes an ambitious set of eight Millennium Development Goals to eliminate extreme poverty, hunger and diseases by 2015.The Neglected Tropical Infectious Diseases (NTDs) affect some 2.7 billion people who live on less than US$2-per day. These diseases lead to long-term disability and poverty causing some 534,000 deaths annually.
We have had a decade or two of unprecedented scientific progress in medicine and there is great promise of more. But we cannot rest on our laurels. The infectious Tropical Diseases are in danger of being forgotten by a rich world that has forgotten its poor, and they will be forgotten, unless we take an aggressive and entrepreneurial approach, to grasp the scientific, political and economic opportunities that arise, and set in place good defense against our biological enemies. It is the task of all us to make sure that the infectious tropical diseases will not fall back into the darkness of middle-ages.