Peter Hotez, special guest of Carlos Slim Foundation

During the 10th edition of the Carlos Slim Health Awards, Dr. Peter Hotez, presented the conference ‘The Emergence and Re-emergence of Zika, Chagas, and Other Neglected Diseases in a Globalized World’ at the Institute for Epidemiological Diagnosis and Reference (INDRE).

During his presentation, he said that these diseases not only affect health but also productivity and economic development.

Dr. Hotez is currently leading the development of the world’s only vaccines against hookworm, schistosomiasis, Chagas disease and SARS MERS, diseases that affect millions of people worldwide.

The expert said that their biggest challenge for the creation of vaccines against neglected conditions is that pharmaceutical companies are not interested in diseases that affect low-income populations.

In 2015, Dr. Hotez was one of the first scientists to predict the emergence of Zika in the United States, later serving as advisor at the US Congress and for the government of Texas.

The Initiative for the Development of Vaccines against Chagas disease, promoted by the Carlos Slim Foundation (CSF), aims to develop a therapeutic vaccine against this disease, able to prevent or reduce its progression from the indeterminate phase to its severe forms.

In partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine, the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) and the Autonomous University of Yucatan, CSF seeks the development of new vaccines against diseases linked to poverty and at the same time strengthens national vaccination programs.

The work developed by CSFand these institutions aims to protect and improve the quality of life of millions of people in Latin America who have been infected, as well as prevent the disease from progressing and reaching serious states.

This initiative is an unprecedented action that seeks to help eradicating different diseases from the American continent, including onchocerciasis or river blindness, in collaboration with the Carter Center.

Although Chagas disease is a condition considered neglected, it has a great impact on America. It is caused by the infection of a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to humans through the bite of insects known as Triatominae or kissing bugs. It is estimated that about 7 million people are infected, of whom 30% may have chronic complications, which can cause death.