Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) comprise of 14 parasitic and bacterial infections. They are the most common afflictions of humankind. The seven most prevalent NTDs (ascariasis, hookworm infection, trichuriasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchoocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma) affect over one billion individuals, one sixth of the world population. Ninety percent of the disease burden of NTDs is in Africa with the majority of the infected two or more NTDs. Most can be prevented and eliminated through the administration of inexpensive or donated medicines. Children are the most vulnerable.

They are named neglected because these diseases persist exclusively in the poorest and the most marginalized communities, and have been largely eliminated and thus forgotten in wealthier places. The diseases thrive in places with unsafe water, poor sanitation, and limited access to basic health care. Despite the severe pain and life-long disabilities they cause, these diseases are often less visible and given a low priority alongside high mortality diseases.

NTDs blind, debilitate, deform, or maim. Severe impairments occur after years of virtually silent infection. From initial infection the parasites multiply and migrate through the body and mature and accumulate in tissues, internal organs, the eyes or the lymphatic system. Some destroy the skin and subcutaneous tissue. If left undetected and untreated the damage is irreversible.

NTDs cause human misery due to the stigma, deformities, chronic and debilitating pain they cause. NTDs permanently curtail human potential, cause an enormous economic burden for endemic countries. In children they impair growth and cognitive development and significantly reduce the economic productivity of the adult population thereby anchoring millions of people in poverty.

Why are they neglected?

Summary

Read more on the seven most prevalent NTDs (ascariasis, hookworm infection, trichuriasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchoocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and trachoma).