Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of debilitating conditions related to tropical infections and linked to poverty and developing nations. NTDs are sometimes deadly, but more often are typically debilitating or disfiguring, and can cause blindness, chronic pain, severe disability, bodily disfigurement, and malnutrition. They are especially endemic in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Families affected by NTDs become trapped in poverty, because those weakening diseases commonly prevent children from attending classes and limit the economic productivity of adult workers.
Which diseases are technically classified as Neglected Tropical diseases might vary among researchers and organizations, but there is a general consensus on what constitutes the seven most prevalent NTDs: the two blinding diseases of onchocerciasis and trachoma; the three soil-transmitted helminthes (worms), hookworm, roundworm and whipworm; schistosomiasis (snail fever); and lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis).
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Full list of neglected tropical diseases
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 17 diseases classified as NTD:
- Buruli Ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection)
- Chagas disease
- Dengue/Severe dengue
- Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)
- Foodborne trematodiases
- Human African trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness)
- Lymphatic filariasis
- Onchocerciasis (River blindness)
- Soil transmitted helminthiases
- Yaws (Endemic treponematoses)
The World Health Organization list of Negleted tropical diseases also adds four other ‘neglected’ conditions: Mycetoma, Podoconiosis, Snakebite, and Strongyloidiasis.
Since 1989, it’s estimated that the number of dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) decreased 99%. Between 1999 and 2011, the reported amount of human African trypanosomiasis cases decreased 76%. In 2011, around 728 million people have received preventive chemotheraphy for at least one disease.
Rabies, a zoonotic disease caused by a virus, kills more than 60,000 people each year. More than 95% of those fatalities occur in Asia and Africa and four out of every ten people who die from rabies are kids.
Over the last 50 years, occurrences of dengue have increased 30-fold. Up to 50-100 million infections are now estimated to occur every year in more than one hundred endemic countries, a problem that puts almost half of the world’s population at risk.
The control of neglected tropical diseases is estimated to require funding of between $2 billion to $3 billion over the next five to seven years.
NTD treatments and Funding
Some NTDs have known preventive measures or even medical treatments available in the developed world. The problem is that they are not generally available in the areas most affect by the diseases. Some treatments can be reasonably inexpensive: to treat a child with schistosomiasis during a year may cost approximately USD $0.20.
Lack of intervention makes treating neglected diseases a priority, though efforts to do so are chronically underfunded. Only two donor-fundable charities that focus exclusively on Neglected Tropical Diseases, one is the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and other is Deworm the World.
Related Article Groups for Neglected Tropical Diseases:
The Sabin Vaccine Institute:
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The National School of Tropical Medicine:
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Dr. Peter Hotez:
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