DEVELOPMENT REPORT - WHO/Infectious Diseases

By Jill Moss

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

The World Health Organization says the spread of new diseases is increasing, as countries become more dependent on each other. The health organization is urging countries to accept an international plan to fight the threat of disease. The W-H-O released a special videotaped announcement to tell countries about the plan.

The message describes a world affected by both old and new deadly diseases. It also notes that old diseases, like tuberculosis, are becoming more common. Tuberculosis is curable. Yet the World Health Organization estimates that about two-million people die each year from it. W-H-O officials say more than ten-million people will be newly infected with tuberculosis by Two-Thousand-Five if nothing is done to stop the disease from spreading.

The message also reports that new diseases are very dangerous. Many of these new diseases do not have cures. During the past thirty years, the W-H-O says millions of people have died from such diseases as AIDS, Ebola, Mad Cow disease and Legionnaire's disease.

The W-H-O says international trade and the increased movement of people have increased the risk of disease. The group says infectious diseases can now spread around the world with ease and speed.

Robert Steffen is a Swiss public health expert. He is concerned about the use of infections as a weapon of terror. He says infections can spread through biological agents that are either natural or genetically created. Doctor Steffen says the dangers of this so-called "bio-terrorism" will increase if little is done to prevent it.

Peter Ndumbe is a professor of medicine in Cameroon. He says the greatest threat of disease is in poor developing countries. He says rich countries can help themselves by helping poor countries with their health needs. But Doctor Ndumbe says rich countries must give such support to countries in a fair way. For example, he says a few countries in Africa always get help from aid organizations working on the continent. Instead, Doctor Ndumbe says all developing countries should receive such aid.

The World Health Organization says the spread of old and new diseases has become a major international problem. It warns that no country -- rich or poor -- should fail to recognize this health problem.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Jill Moss.

Voice of America Special English