Internacional Health and neglected diseases

Globalisation and the increasing amount of international travel favour the emergence of infections acquired in one country and diagnosed in another. These are the so-called imported infections.

At the same time, millions of people around the world suffer from neglected diseases, which are a set of infectious diseases, many of them parasitic, that mainly affect the poorest populations with limited access to health services.

THE CHALLENGE

Our challenge is to prevent, diagnose and treat those infections related to international travel, both those affecting travellers and those affecting the immigrant population. In the North Metropolitan area of Barcelona, where between 15-20% of the population are immigrants, we have a high percentage of the population with imported infections. Something needs to be done in this regard. We also work with endemic countries to address neglected diseases.

WHAT HAVE WE DONE SO FAR?

2012

A single dose of azithromycin is found to eliminate yaws disease from the body quickly, painlessly and affordably. The cost of this new treatment is one euro per person, an amount that includes the purchase of the antibiotic and distribution.

2022

We started a pilot project to identify people affected by schistosomiasis among the population at risk in the North Metropolitan area of Barcelona. Almost 40% of the population studied so far has tested positive for the disease, which can cause urinary infections, kidney failure, bladder cancer, liver cirrhosis or infertility, among others.

LINES OF ACTION

Imported and emerging infections

Schistosomiasis
Recent studies estimate that 24% of sub-Saharan immigrants living in Europe have schistosomiasis. 74,000 people of sub-Saharan origin live in Catalonia, so we could be talking about more than 17,000 infected people, the vast majority of whom are currently undiagnosed.

The screening that we are carrying out together with Northern Metropolitan Primary Care of the Catalan Institute of Health determines that almost 40% of the population studied has tested positive for the disease.

Tuberculosis
In our environment, tuberculosis affects the immigrant population in increasing order. It has some unique characteristics that differentiate it from tuberculosis in the autochthonous population and focuses on vulnerable groups, mainly the Hindustani population (Pakistan and India), which more frequently presents disseminated forms, with a more than notable diagnostic delay, the average in our patients being more than 24 months.

Forgotten diseases

Yaws
In 2012, Dr Oriol Mitjà discovered that a single dose of azithromycin eliminates yaws in a fast, painless and affordable way. At the same time, Mitjà established a diagnostic method that makes it possible to easily and quickly identify the presence of the bacteria that cause the disease.

Tropical ulcers and H. Ducreyi
After discovering that up to 60% of tropical ulcers clinically diagnosed as yaws were in fact caused by H. ducreyi, we were able to provide definitive clinical data on the efficacy of azithromycin in treating ulcers caused by this other pathogen.

LATEST NEWS

FEATURED PROJECTS

MEET THE TEAM OF THIS AREA OF KNOWLEDGE

Sílvia Roure

Head of the International Health and Neglected Diseases Section – Doctor and Researcher

Laura Soldevila

Doctor and Researcher

Sergio España

Doctor and Researcher

Lluís Valerio

Doctor and Researcher

Xavier Vallès

Doctor and Researcher

Oriol Mitjà

Head of Community infection control strategies

Clara Sunyer

Postdoctoral Researcher

Camila González

Postdoctoral Researcher

Miquel Àngel Rodríguez

Project Manager

Laia Bertran

Knowledge translation coordinator

Sergi Gavilán

Project Assistant

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