Victoria Hale, a pharmaceutical scientist and founder of the first nonprofit drug company, delivered a lecture on combatting global diseases earlier this month at the Chapel. Her organization, OneWorld Health, is dedicated to treating “neglected” diseases that claim the lives of needy people in poorer countries. It was the first of four talks in the university’s “Global Disease: Voices from the Vanguard” series. An excerpt:
“Despite infectious and diarrheal diseases, which are the number one and number two killers, most of the neglected diseases we fight are particularly complicated because multiple pathogens are involved. I propose that the world has shied away from, and scientists have been hesitant to tackle, these diseases because of the multiple pathogens. And we need to do better than that. And we need to learn to work together if we’re going to get at these diseases. And we can do it.
“I educated myself living in the U.S. and I didn’t know much about what was going on in the rest of the world. But a little problem arose for me once I became a pharmaceutical scientist: Once you know that certain drugs aren’t being developed and could be developed, how can you not act? Once you know, how can you do nothing?. . .
“I ask, why do we have these problems, why are there disease disparities and why are their consequences for only some of these diseases? And the reason is poverty, the ability to pay. It really is that simple. It’s unfortunate, but the good part of that is if it’s simple then perhaps there is a remedy that can be reached and that one can imagine and that one can put into practice…”