Every four years, representatives from across the world come together at World Leish, the World Congress on Leishmaniais. Last week approximately 1,500 delegates from over 70 countries converged upon Toledo, Spain for the 6th iteration of this international conference, which focuses on an age-old disease that is still common in certain countries. According to the World Health Organization, leishmaniasis affects some of the poorest people on earth and is associated with malnutrition, population displacement, poor housing and a lack of financial resources.
Against the backdrop of this beautiful historical city, updates on the progress and requirements still required to control the various presentations of this parasitic disease (actually many diseases caused by many parasites) were provided. The disease-centric nature of the conference provides a rare opportunity to hear the different “language” of lab scientists, social scientists, field workers, veterinarians, clinicians, students and policy makers from across the world come together in a single place and single time.
It was with great pleasure that I was able to represent IDRI’s diagnostic and vaccine programs through both poster and oral presentations of our data. With IDRI’s longstanding contribution recognized by abundant mentions of our development of tools such the rK39 rapid diagnostic test and adjuvants to support vaccine development programs, the conference also provided opportunity to meet and expand our wide ranging collaborative network.
The conference also affirmed that while much is still required to control and ultimately prevent leishmaniasis, there is enthusiasm that significant progress is being and will continue to be made in these efforts.