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Call for global database on neglected tropical diseases

A multinational scientific team has called for the establishment of a global database showing the distribution of neglected tropical diseases across the developing world.

The benefits of an open access database were outlined in a study published in December in the Public Library of Science journal, “Neglected Tropical Diseases”, reports the SciDev.Net website.

The paper is by Eveline Hurlimann of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, and colleagues from Denmark, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. They describe a pilot project focussing on schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease the World Health Organization says affects more than 700 million people worldwide.

Based on a literature search and information supplied by governments and research institutes, the team has produced location-specific data on schistosomiasis prevalence.

The authors say this approach provides information that is vital in planning effective control strategies against this and other major diseases both in sub-Saharan Africa and further afield.

“Disease risk estimates are a key feature to target control interventions, and serve as a benchmark for monitoring and evaluation. What is currently missing is a georeferenced global database for NTDs providing open-access to the available survey data that is constantly updated and can be utilised by researchers and disease control managers to support other relevant stakeholders,” the paper says.