Special Perspectives

Waterborne Infectious Diseases—Could They Be Consigned to History?

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Science  25 Aug 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5790, pp. 1077-1081
DOI: 10.1126/science.1127184

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Abstract

The development of water resources, particularly in Africa, has changed the face of the continent, opening up land for agriculture, providing electric power, encouraging settlements adjacent to water bodies, and bringing prosperity to poor people. Unfortunately, the created or altered water bodies provide ideal conditions for the transmission of waterborne diseases and a favorable habitat for intermediate hosts of tropical parasitic infections that cause disease and suffering. The recent progress in control of these waterborne and vector-borne diseases, such as guinea worm, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis, suggests that many of them could be controlled effectively by 2015, which is the target for reaching the Millennium Development Goals. Donations of safe and effective drugs by several pharmaceutical companies, funds for delivering these donated drugs from foundations and bilateral donors, and effective global health partnerships should make these diseases history.

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