Neglected Tropical Diseases
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of chronic, disabling and disfiguring diseases. There are 17 that the World Health Organisation has identified as needing attention. Leprosy is one of them.
The impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases is huge. They tend to impact vulnerable people—usually those who are indigenous or live in extreme poverty or conflict areas. They are common in Africa, Asia and the Americas. They impair physical and cognitive development in children, complicate pregnancies, make it difficult for people to farm or earn a living, limit productivity in the workplace, and can even cause death. As a result, they can keep millions of people in a cycle of poverty. This is why controlling these diseases is a key element in meeting Africa’s Sustainable Development Goals to reduce poverty. With 400 million school-aged children throughout the developing world infected by Neglected Tropical Diseases, treatment is also the single most cost-effective way to boost school attendance, educate the next generation of workers and improve developing economies.
When we fight Neglected Tropical Diseases, the results are highly significant because treatments are generally cheap. But unfortunately these diseases are not very visible to the developed world. Aid agencies tend to overlook them. Aid often favours the “big three”: HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria. But Neglected Tropical Diseases cause 500,000 deaths and cost developing countries billions of dollars every year. In fact, the combined years that people lose to Neglected Tropical Disease-related illness, disability and death are the same as the combined losses of the “big three”.
People affected by these diseases are among the poorest of the world. Treating and rehabilitating those suffering from them is a global responsibility and one that all people can support.