Monday, April 10, 2006

Beyond Swollen Limbs, a Disease's Hidden Agony - New York Times

Let us hope that this disfiguring disease can indeed be eliminated...

Beyond Swollen Limbs, a Disease's Hidden Agony - New York Times: "LÉOGÂNE, Haiti — Like many surgeons, Dr. Yves Laurissaint is a man supremely sure of himself."

"I've trained a lot of other surgeons to do this operation," he said as he sliced open the engorged scrotum of 68-year-old Gesner Nicé, emptied more than a pint of clear liquid, then began trimming away with a cauterizing scalpel, filling the operating room with the acrid smell of burning skin. "But they don't do it. They say it's too complicated."

Mr. Nicé, a woodcutter, has lymphatic filariasis, a disease in which clusters of four-inch worms as fine as blond hairs nest in the lymph nodes, the body's drainage system, stretching them until lymph fluid can only drain downward.

To anyone who has visited poor tropical countries or seen pictures of the disease, the instantly recognizable symptom, which afflicts both men and women, is elephantiasis: legs so swollen that they resemble an elephant's....

Five years ago, the World Health Organization adopted eradication by 2020 as a goal, and progress toward it for the next five years will cost about $1.5 billion, the Global Alliance said. But that estimate assumes that billions of deworming pills will be donated by GlaxoSmithKline and Merck, that technical advisers will be lent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and that American graduate students and local people will work for no pay.

It also presumes continued financing from the biggest donors, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and Unicef.

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