Neglected tropical diseases - Statistics & Facts

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases and tropical infections that affect the poorer populations of the world, specifically in regions such as South America, Asia, and Africa. These diseases thrive in tropical areas where access to clean water and basic preventative measures is limited. The most well-known NTDs include Chagas disease, dengue and chikungunya fever, dracunculiasis (also known as Guinea worm disease), leprosy, lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis), schistosomiasis, and trachoma. NTDs affect more than one billion people worldwide, with the highest number of people requiring interventions from such diseases found in India, Nigeria and Indonesia.

As of 2019, one of the most widespread NTDs was soil-transmitted helminthiasis, which affected 112 countries worldwide, compared to schistomiasis, or snail fever, which affected 78 countries, and elephantiasis which affected 52. As of that time, around 102 million people worldwide were affected by snail fever, and 819 million were affected by ascariasis, or round worm, one of the three major species of worm that cause soil-transmitted helminthiasis. Control and treatment of NTDs have seen a decline in a number of diseases, with only 28 reported cases of Guinea worm disease in 2018, for example, compared to 25,217 cases in 2006.

Prevention and treatment of many NTDs is relatively cheap and can be very effective. One of the most commonly used treatment methods is known as mass drug administration (MDA), in which large at-risk populations are treated with a drug, despite showing no symptoms of the disease. As of 2016, there were 198.4 million people living in districts where MDA for elephantiasis was no longer needed because there was no longer transmission, or infection levels had reached very low levels. Research and development for medicines and vaccines for NTDs continues, with 26 medicines and two vaccines in the R&D pipeline for Chagas disease alone, as of 2016.

One of the major obstacles in eliminating many NTDs is that the regions affected are poor and lack the adequate resources to control, prevent, and treat the diseases. Funding from global organizations and high-income countries therefore remains essential in fighting against NTDs. The United States is by far the leading country when it comes to public funding for research and development on NTDs, contributing around 1.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. Furthermore, in 2016, the value of donated drugs for NTDs from the USAID NTD program reached almost 4.6 billion dollars. Leading organizations in funding for R&D on NTDs include U.S. National Health Institutes, the Gates Foundation, and the Wellcome Trust.

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Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)

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