Coronavirus effect on other diseases

By Dr. Stephen A. Berger

The effect of coronavirus on the economy and our daily lives has been huge. COVID-19 has rightly dominated government and organization policies, social life, and media headlines so far this year — but are other diseases getting the right attention?

Neglected diseases

The World Health Organization maintains a department dedicated to the research and treatment of Neglected Tropical Diseases. These conditions are considered “neglected” by mainstream Medicine by virtue of a relative lack of impact and presence in Western countries.

In January 2020, GIDEON listed 360 generic infectious diseases in humans — of which eighteen were classified as neglected by W.H.O.

That month, a new disease was added, to a new total of 361. In only a few short months, COronaVIrus Disease 2019, appears to have lead to the neglect of all other conditions.

Why we shouldn’t lose sight of other diseases

A few years ago, Ebola became a household word for much of the world’s population. An outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 resulted in over 28,000 cases — and 11,325 deaths. During this event, several individuals with Ebola arrived in Western Europe and the United States, and many in the professional and lay community warned of a potential disaster should the disease spread beyond Africa.

During 2018 to 2020, a subsequent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo numbered 3,463 cases and 2,280 deaths. Few realize that a concurrent epidemic of COVID-19 in this same country had already involved 8,249 cases and 193 deaths as of July 18. In other words, the number of deaths due to Ebola was twelve-fold the number due to COVID-19. Although the Ebola outbreak ended in April, yet another outbreak began in this same country on June 1 — with 49 cases and 20 deaths as of July 14.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Democratic Republic of Congo has also reported outbreaks of plague, measles, and monkeypox. “Not every cough is COVID”, wrote GIDEON co-founder Dr. Stephen Berger in a recent Healio article. The message is clear — COVID-19 must not result in the neglect of already-neglected diseases.

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We exist to advance the global effort against Infectious Disease.