GAFFI CALLS FOR RADICAL SHAKE UP IN THE WAY THE WORLD VIEWS FUNGAL DISEASES AND CLAIMS
• SIMPLE ANTIFUNGAL REMEDIES ARE UNAVAILABLE FOR HALF THE WORLD
• PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCIES IGNORE FUNGAL DISEASES, DESPITE 1.5 MILLION DEATHS EACH YEAR
• PEOPLE ARE DYING NEEDLESSLY THOUGH DRUGS TO SAVE THEM HAVE BEEN AROUND OVER 50 YEARS
Today the project ‘95-95 by 2025’ was launched in Australia by the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI), calling on national governments and public health agencies to reduce the death and blindness toll from fungal diseases. 95-95 means 95 percent of patients with life or sight-threatening fungal disease are diagnosed and 95 percent treated. Currently the figures are at best 50 percent and, at worst, as low as one in three.
Significant advances in diagnostics for fungal pneumonia and meningitis have been made over the last 15 years, but are not available in most countries. A key antifungal drug amphotericin B, first used in 1959, is still not available in 76 countries, yet is critical in the treatment fungal meningitis. Other antifungals are either not readily available or are excessively expensive.
GAFFI lays part of the responsibility on those public health authorities and major health agencies that have failed to recognize the huge avoidable death and blindness toll attributable to fungal disease. The importance of chronic and allergic fungal infections has been overlooked for years, and are likely responsible for over 500,000 deaths each year. Likewise, AIDS-related fungal infections are responsible for up to 700,000 deaths (nearly half the total AIDS deaths), and could be halved rapidly if diagnosis and treatment were made available immediately.
At the launch meeting, hosted in Melbourne by the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology, Dr David Denning, President of GAFFI, and Professor of Infectious Diseases in Global Health at The University of Manchester said: “We propose a systematic approach to greatly reducing deaths and disease from fungal disease, using tried and tested rapid diagnosis and antifungal therapy. We recognize that health ministers in all countries have many demands, but the loss of life and sight of the some of the most productive and active members of society, is economically and socially disastrous.”
Professor Tania Sorrell, Director of the Sydney Institute for Emerging Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, Professor of Clinical Infectious Diseases, University of Sydney and Senior Physician at Westmead Hospital, Sydney, who chaired the launch, commented: “95-95 by 2025 is a bold and necessary call to action for fungal disease experts, the diagnostic and pharmaceutical industry and the public health community to really make an impact, especially among the disadvantaged in the world.”
Professor Mike Turner, Head of Infection and Immuno-biology, and acting head of Population Health at The Wellcome Trust added: ‘There are several very serious diseases caused by fungal infection, many of which are extremely difficult for doctors to treat. GAFFI are bringing a new energy to raising the profile of fungal infections and highlighting the need for a renewed international effort to care for people who suffer from them.‘
Issued by Susan Osborne, Director of Communications, The Goodwork Organisation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone +44 7836 229208.
95-92 by 2025 is available here: www.GAFFI.org/ROADMAP
Notes to Editors –
Globally, over 300 million people of all ages suffer from serious fungal infections every year resulting in over 1,350,000 deaths. Like malaria with 627,000 deaths and tuberculosis with 1,300,000 deaths annually (2013), many deaths from fungal infection are avoidable. Most serious fungal infections are ‘hidden’, occurring as a consequence of other health problems such as asthma, AIDS, cancer, organ transplant and corticosteroid therapies. All require specialized testing for diagnosis, and delays or missed diagnosis often lead to death, serious chronic illness or blindness. While antiretroviral therapy of HIV infection is essential, many patient die of fungal disease before antiretroviral treatment, or in the first year of therapy.
GAFFI is a registered International Foundation based in Geneva, focused on 4 major tasks related to serious fungal infections. These are:
• Universal access to fungal disease diagnostics for serious fungal disease
• Universal access to antifungal agents www.gaffi.org/why/burden-of-disease-maps/
• Accurate data on the number and severity of fungal infections
• Health professional education related to better recognition and care for patients with serious fungal disease