Seven so-called neglected diseases just became a little less neglected. This morning, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new $34 million grant in support of a global network that aims to slash rates of easily treatable infectious diseases that affect as many as 1.4 billion poor people.
While research and treatment budgets for HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis have exploded in recent years, many lesser-known tropical diseases have not gotten nearly the same attention—even though their collective disease burden is just as high or higher, and cheap, effective drugs exist for the seven most common ones, says Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., and one of the founders of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases .
Part of the grant, announced today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, will be used to help drum up more financial support for the network, Hotez says, while the rest will go to scaling up treatment of the seven infectious diseases in developing countries. The septet  includes ascariasis, hookworm, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, trachoma, and trichuriasis.