Two men in Mexico at sunset.

De veronachtzaamde ziekten van de verdrukten

WASHINGTON, DC – Toen paus Franciscus in september de Verenigde Staten bezocht hield hij historische toespraken voor het Amerikaanse Congres en voor de Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties. Verder bouwend op het sentiment uit zijn encycliek Laudato Si’, benadrukte Franciscus de verantwoordelijkheid van de internationale gemeenschap inzake het tegemoet treden van menselijk lijden, zoals dat van vluchtelingen en zij die in extreme armoede leven, en deed een oproep tot mondiale solidariteit om sociale buitensluiting en ongelijkheid te beëindigen.

De beden van de paus zouden onze aandacht moeten vestigen op elk aspect van het menselijk lijden, en vooral op die aspecten die de meest gemarginaliseerde mensen treffen. Een hiervan betreft de z.g. verwaarloosde tropische ziekten (VTZ). Deze groep parasitische en hieraan gerelateerde infecties – waaronder lymfatische filariasis (ofwel elefantiase), intestinale wormen, en schistosomiasis – is een gesel der armoede. Deze ziekten besmetten ongeveer 1,4 miljard mensen per jaar, waaronder meer dan 500 miljoen kinderen, wat een ongehoorde pijn en lijden veroorzaakt en door middel van productiviteitsverlies bijdraagt aan de armoedecyclus.

De afgelopen tien jaar heeft de internationale gemeenschap belangrijke vooruitgang geboekt in de strijd tegen VTZ. Zo heeft de generositeit van grote farmaceutische bedrijven, die gratis medicijnen verstrekken, er bijvoorbeeld voor gezorgd dat behandelingsprogramma’s opgeschaald konden worden.

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