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Stephen Hawking hails one billionth tropical disease treatment


By Ben Comber


Prof Stephen Hawking at Moller Centre commending his fathers role in progress towards NTD elimination, whilst celebrating delivering one billion treatments for NTD at an event organised by UK charity Sightsavers, left to right Prof Stephen Hawking, Dr Caroline Harper CEO of Sightsavers presenting a thankyou gift and Prof Hawkings sister Dr Mary Hawking. Picture: Keith Heppell
Prof Stephen Hawking at Moller Centre commending his fathers role in progress towards NTD elimination, whilst celebrating delivering one billion treatments for NTD at an event organised by UK charity Sightsavers, left to right Prof Stephen Hawking, Dr Caroline Harper CEO of Sightsavers presenting a thankyou gift and Prof Hawkings sister Dr Mary Hawking. Picture: Keith Heppell

His father was one of the earliest researchers to development treatments in the field.

Professor Stephen Hawking shifted his gaze from the stars to talk about the pioneering work done a bit closer to home by his father, Dr Frank Hawking.

The Cambridge physicist was speaking at an event on Tuesday December 12 to mark the one billionth treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by UK charity Sightsavers, which took place in Cambridge yesterday.

NTDs are a group of painful and debilitating infections that affect about one in five people across the globe. They are most prevalent in developing countries and cause severe and lifelong physical impairment.

He congratulated the work of the organisations which, he says, are now on the brink of eliminating an NTD known as lymphatic filariasis, of which his father was one of the first researchers to develop treatment for in the 1950s.

Prof Hawking said: “My father’s work into NTDs many years ago highlighted that this is an important area where we must be placing focus.

“The fact that these diseases are entirely preventable and treatable means that, in this day and age with the advances in health and science we know only too well, we should really be in a position to be saying goodbye to these horrible diseases of poverty once and for all.

“We are here to celebrate delivering one billion treatments for NTDs – a monumental milestone few health programmes have achieved, both in terms of scale and level of success.

“Collaboration between partners across the world over the last five years has accelerated us closer to the elimination of NTDs than ever before, making it clear that this is one of the most successful health initiatives of recent times.”

He added: “This is truly an illustration of what can be achieved when we work together to change lives for the better.”



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