Aspergillus and other fungi cause many infections and diseases worldwide with hundreds of millions of people affected, many of whom cannot get access to the drugs to treat fungal disease in their own countries as they are expensive or even not even available to buy!
The increasingly influential Global Action Fund for Fungal Infection (GAFFI) have been campaigning for some time to encourage drug companies and all countries to make important antifungal drugs available worldwide and was recently successful in encouraging the World Health Organisation to put some of these drugs on their 'Essential Medicines' list (see 'A Step Forward for Treatment of Fungal Infection Worldwide').
The UK government has now contributed an extra £200 million per year (£360 million p.a. in total) to the fight against neglected tropical diseases and this includes help for the treatment of mycetoma, often a serious invasive fungal infection of the foot caused by people standing on infected objects while wearing no shoes, common in poorer countries and often the only treatment is amputation of the foot.
The inclusion of mycetoma on the neglected tropical diseases list was only achieved in 2013 after lengthy lobbying from the International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ISHAM).
It is easy to envisage the massive benefit that early and effective treatment of mycetoma would bring to the infected patients but also their caregivers & their families - especially if the infected person is the major income earner or a parent.
This UK contribution is important but given that we are trying to reach 300 million people every year and the high cost of some antifungal medication and of course access to the all important diagnostic techniques needed before treatment proceeds then much more remains to be done.