One of the many things I find fascinating about Hyderabad is its history of such a large Muslim minority. Currently, it is around 45% Muslim. No other major city in India comes close to this, particularly outside of the state of Kashmir. I have always felt that this must play a major role in differences in local disease epidemiology, etc though I have never seen literature that addresses this conjecture. Since our trips are always in July/August, we run
into the Bonalu festival every time. The rush of the population in the different festival areas, the slaughter of animals at the Golconda fort, and the accumulation of garbage after parades etc – all during monsoon season – must have some effect on disease, right? Similarly, last year, we came here during Ramadan (or “Ramzaan” as it is pronounced in India). So much of the population here changes its food intake pattern during that time, in both quantity and quality.
So with this in my mind, I was fascinated to see this piece by Hotez address religion and tropical disease at a more global level. The very brief upshot is that all neglected tropical diseases occur in Christian-majority nations, Muslim-majority nations, or India. These obviously vary by region, which is part of the point. He discusses the linkage with poverty and development in the affected countries, and proposes that religious leaders and organizations could have a role to play in combating these diseases. I have included a table related to South Asia here, but would encourage readers to check out the whole piece.