Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected Tropical Diseases

The World Health Organisation (WHO) define Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) as a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries that affect more than one 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 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. The London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases of 2012 brought together partners such as the pharmaceutical industry, donors, affected countries, and NGOs who all pledged to contribute in the form of drugs, technical knowledge, research and funding, in the fight against NTDS. 

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.

Source: WHO Neglected Tropical Diseases