World-renowned clinician and investigator of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Peter Hotez, spoke to students Friday about the development of a vaccine that will help prevent the spread of parasites and infections among low-income populations around the world.
While the cost of treatment in countries where NTDs are common is very inexpensive, the citizens of these countries are still unable to afford them, Hotez said.
“It would only cost each of us 20 cents a year if we all decided to help,” Hotez said. “A huge difference can be made with a small contribution.”
According to a study done by Hotez and the American Society of Tropical Medicine, 1.4 billion people are at risk of being infected with NTDs.
Hotez used images of children with roundworms, whipworms and — the most common — hookworms, in a PowerPoint presentation to show the effects of NTDs in countries of the eastern hemisphere.
“NTDs can cause learning deficiencies and stunted growth,” Hotez said.
“It affects (student’s) performance in schools.”
NTDs are common in Islamic countries and parts of North Africa and India, one reason why students felt the University of Houston was the perfect place for him to give a lecture, Hotez said.
“This school is so diverse, and in a lot of my classes, I’ve met people from many of those countries. We have a lot of students from Nigeria, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan,” said Shee Itaman, a biochemistry senior.
“This would definitely encourage these students.”
Hotez said his goal is to establish a master’s and Ph.D program that will help in the development of a vaccine.
“The vaccine would help eliminate the diseases better because of resistance in contrast to a tablet where the diseases have chance of coming back,” Hotez said.