What is the World Federation of Parasitologists?
The World Federation of Parasitologists (WFP) exists to unite those engaged in the study of parasites and to present forums for international exchange of information and ideas. We bring together the National Societies of Parasitology worldwide and provide contacts and insights to benefit students, research scientists, national and international agencies, health control specialists and others keen to learn about Parasitology and its importance globally.
What is parasitology and why are parasites important?
The parasitic mode of life is the most common on the planet with representatives from all major taxa. Parasites have evolved highly specialized adaptations that allow them to exploit host resources and to find a niche in every living organism. Negative consequences of parasitic infection result in the multitude of diseases affecting animals and humans including trypanosomiasis, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, toxoplasmosis, elephantiasis and ascariasis to name a few. These diseases are caused by a broad range of parasites from simple single celled forms to multi-cellular organisms such as lung, liver and gut flukes, tapeworms and roundworms. Hence, parasitology has broad applications to human and veterinary medicine, agriculture, fisheries, nutrition and biodiversity
Parasites ‘steal’ resources from the infected host that would normally be utilized for growth and reproduction. It is becoming increasingly clear that variation in host resources can influence disease dynamics and parasite virulence thereby shaping the prevalence of disease within populations. Understanding the unique adaptations of parasites and the interactions between parasitic organisms and their hosts poses research questions that continue to fascinate biologists and scientists from many different disciplines.
One of the most devastating diseases caused by parasites is malaria for which there are 300 million acute cases annually, resulting in more than a million deaths, mostly in children under five years of age. Globally, there has been a strengthening of will to combat malaria with initiatives from the Roll Back Malaria Global Partnership, the Multilateral Initiative for Malaria of the WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others. Indeed Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have voiced their commitment that “Our long-term goal is to eradicate this deadly disease”. This will be an enormous challenge but an important call to those developing novel treatments and controls against malaria. Currently, a vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum (RTS,S) is in Phase III human trials and a number of new drugs and combinations in advanced stages of development, providing hope that the tools for the prevention of malaria infection will be available in the near future. By harnessing global expertise and encouraging effective scientific networks, significant progress can be achieved across the multiple disciplines of parasitology.
What does the World Federation of Parasitologists do?
The WFP promotes the study of parasitology globally and provides a forum for international exchange by sponsoring of The International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA) meeting every four years. The next Congress, ICOPA XIII, will be held in Mexico in 2014 and will provide a valuable opportunity to bring together the world’s parasitology experts to learn, network and develop ideas that will assist in understanding parasites of the world. WFP also provides forums for contacts and insights to benefit students, research scientists, national and international agencies, health control specialists and others keen to learn more about Parasitology in the broadest sense.
This website serves to provide a growing resource of information for anyone keen to learn more about Parasitology. News from all National Parasitology Societies and interested individuals is welcome and please do notify us of important and influential research papers that could be featured in our “Highlighted Article” section. The Executive Board of WFP welcomes your comments and feedback.