Infectious Diseases of Poverty receives its first impact factor: an Editor Q+A

Impact Factors have yet again been assigned to journals by Thomson Reuters and this year, Infectious Diseases of Poverty received its first one. We asked Editor-in-Chief, Xiao-Nong Zhou, more about the journal including what he hopes it will achieve in the future.

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How did the journal Infectious Diseases of Poverty come about and what are its aims?

The journal Infectious Diseases of Poverty (IDP) was developed as a response to the Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty published by UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme on Research and Training in Tropical Diseases in April 2012.

Echoing a growing need to provide opportunities for more voices from disease endemic countries and more trans-disciplinary approaches to research, the IDP journal aims to build on the ‘One health, One world’ approach to reduce the diseases burden in the developing world recommended by the Global Report for Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty.

The journal welcomes all groups who are engaged in research on infectious diseases including scientific investigators, academic societies, physicians, decision makers, research funders, patient advocacy groups and educational organizations, to publish their opinions, comments, ideas and research findings.

Thanks to the joint efforts both from the editorial board members and initiative partners, the journal was launched in October 2012 in the event of The Second International Symposium on Health Systems Research.

Therefore, IDP finally launched as an open access, peer-reviewed journal publishing topic areas and methods that address essential public health questions relating to infectious diseases of poverty.

These include various aspects, with focus on the trans-disciplinary or multi-sectoral effects on health systems, eco-health, environmental management, and innovative technology.

How has the field of parasitic disease research changed during your time as Editor-in-Chief?

The research in the field of parasitic diseases or neglected tropical diseases has changed in terms of integrating multi-disciplinary or trans-disciplinary approaches to understand the transmission patterns. These results now provide better guidance for the national disease control programme.

For example, innovative findings from the tuberculosis disease mapping and modelling approach which integrates epidemiological data, ecology data, environmental data and social-economic data, as well as integrating multi-analysis ways including a geographic information system, ecological modelling and so on, has provided information for better allocation of resources in the national control programme.

In addition, research findings on community-based intervention on neglected tropical diseases has attracted more readers to using multi-stakeholders in mobilizing local resources to be involved in the disease control programme.

XN Zhou
Xiao-Nong Zhou

At the same time, the majority of authors are from developing countries, particularly from African countries where infectious diseases are endemic in the poor population. Those authors from the developing world are able to provide information related to the impact of poverty on the transmission of infectious diseases, so that they can identify the research gaps or priorities properly.

Their findings provide the evidence-based facts to the programmer or decision makers in the resources limited settings. For example, the community-based intervention approach has been reported in many infectious diseases but with different impacts.

Are there any specific articles in the journal that you think have contributed to the Impact Factor success?

Generally, both scoping review and research articles have equally contributed to the impact factor success.

In the scoping review, the article of ‘Research gaps for three main tropical diseases in the People’s Republic of China’ had higher contribution to the impact factor due to the findings from this scoping review which provided information on research gaps and the need of products in the national disease control programme.

And in the research articles, entitled ‘Co-infections with Babesia microti and Plasmodium parasites along the China-Myanmar border’ provided multi-dimensions of information to the stakeholders, such as providing the new way to explore the patterns of co-infections (or syndemics), showing how the migrated population contribute the disease transmission cross-border, presenting the difficulties in surveillance and response to a syndemic in border areas, and finally, suggesting more efforts need to be made in researching syndemics, a new pattern of co-infections.

What do you hope the journal will achieve in the future?

We do hope this journal is able to contribute more to the national control programme in the disease endemic countries in the future, which would finally help the poor in the developing world who currently have limited resources and hardly any access to health services.

Then, we expect the IDP journal could call for more attention on the implementation of research, after more research gap analysis performed with supporting by evidence-based data, in the infectious diseases of poverty that normally occurred in the remote and resources limited areas.

IDP journal will produce much higher impacts to reduce the burden of infectious diseases in poor populations or remote settings.

Finally, we wish to explore the way to publish more on trans-disciplinary research findings. All those activities or efforts are finally able to build the bridges among multi-sectors, such as health, agriculture, education, and so on.

Consequently, IDP journal will produce much higher impacts to reduce the burden of infectious diseases in poor populations or remote settings.

What challenges and opportunity do you think there will be accomplishing this?

The major challenges to achieve the above ambitious goal are; a lack of trans-disciplinary research in poor settings which has been neglected for years, delays in transferring point-of-care technologies for control of infectious diseases in the field, and the difficulty in communication between authors, editors, and decision makers in the developing and disease endemic countries.

Therefore, we strongly recommend that local governments need to take responsibility to make efforts to reduce the burden of diseases and support more implementation research in developing countries, and professionals from the disease endemic countries need to work harder and better use resources to jointly fill up those research gaps.

Once we have more modern technologies, then the goal for elimination of infectious diseases in developing countries is achievable, after sustained and joined efforts.

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