Dr. Peter Hotez, who is president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and leads Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, delivered a keynote address during a three-day international conference on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and rare diseases at the Vatican on November 10 to 12.
Organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, speakers from many different countries joined more than 500 leading NTD researchers, Catholic officials and policy makers worldwide to discuss pastoral, economic, social and political measures to advance the fight against NTDs and rare diseases.
Hotez provided an overview on the origin of NTDs, how these diseases debilitate the world’s poorest people and how Catholic institutions can leverage its resources to support NTD treatment, research and prevention programs by encouraging charitable giving. Additionally, he noted the importance of collaborating with the Church’s vast network of hospitals, health centers, schools and parishes to reach out to at-risk communities to encourage healthy behaviors to prevent the spread of NTDs.
“Neglected tropical diseases impact more than one billion people around the world and are ubiquitous among the poor in Africa, Asia and the Americas,” Hotez said. “In fact, new findings of a significant level of NTDs and other poverty-related neglected diseases have been reported among the poor in the U.S. and other G20 nations. I believe a coordinated push at every level of the Church could be the tipping point in the effort to control and eliminate these diseases for good.”