Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected Tropical Diseases

The World Health Organization (WHO) define Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) as a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries which affect more than 1 billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year. Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.

There are currently 20 recognised NTDs in the world, however, advocacy for inclusion of more diseases on the list of NTDS is ongoing. In 2017 alone, three diseases were added to the NTDs list by WHO such as Mycetoma, scabies and snakebite.

The World Health Organization 2020 (WHO) NTD Roadmap published in 2012 outlines five strategies for the prevention, control, elimination and eradication of NTDs. There are specified targets for eradication, elimination, and intensified control of the different NTDs. According to the WHO NTD Roadmap 2030 currently in draft version, substantial progress has been made since the first roadmap was release in 2012. Today, 500 million fewer people require interventions against several NTDs than in 2010, and 40 countries, territories and areas have eliminated at least one disease. Progress against NTDs has alleviated the human and economic burden they impose on the world’s most disadvantaged communities. Over the past eight years, it has demonstrated the effectiveness of aligning the work of Member States with that of diverse partners. Despite the substantial progress that has been made since 2010, not all the targets set for 2020 in the earlier road map will be met. The proposed new road map identifies critical gaps and the actions required to reach the targets set for 2030, established through global consultation. Experience from the past decade shows that further multisectoral action is required for all 20 diseases and disease groups, particularly in diagnostics, monitoring and evaluation, access and logistics, and advocacy and funding. Ambitious, impact-oriented targets are required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and accelerate control and elimination. Circumstances such as epidemics, political instability, migration, the consequences of climate change and antimicrobial resistance increase the complexity of the situation and will require additional action.

The impact of NTDs remain understated and underestimated because these diseases remain asymptomatic for long periods of times and the symptoms when manifested, do not directly point to the original cause. Areas where the disease remain endemic are often remote and not easily accessible, proving a hindrance to treatment and future prevention. Additionally, the stigma associated with having NTDs mean that diseases go unreported. Those suffering from the diseases often do not seek help or treatment due to shame associated with having a deformity, disability, scars, mental health issues.

Sources: WHO Neglected Tropical Diseases and WHO NTD Roadmap 2030