The NTDs (Neglected Tropical Diseases)

What are these? And why should we care?

NTDs are parasitic, bacterial, or viral infections found in the tropics and subtropics mostly among the poorest people in the World. The burden from the diseases affects the individual from a health, social and economic perspective while the burden affects the productivity of the communities as a whole.

There are 20 diseases that qualify as NTDs. The World Health Organization (WHO) has come up with a 10 year plan to end suffering from these diseases by 2030.

The list of 20 NTDs. The key NTDS are in bold.

Some of these NTDs are spread by soil transmitted helminths, some by flies, mosquito, contact with contaminated water or flukes.

  • American trypanosomiasis or Chagas disease
  • Buruli ulcer
  • Dengue and Chikungunya
  • Dracunculiasis or Guinea-worm disease
  • Echinococcosis
  • Foodborne trematodiases (Clonorchiasis, Fascioliasis, Opisthorchiasis, and Paragonimiasis)
  • Human African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Leprosy or Hansen’s disease
  • Lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis
  • Mycetoma
  • Chromoblastomycosis and other deep mycoses
  • Onchocerciasis or river blindness
  • Rabies
  • Scabies and other ectoparasites
  • Schistosomiasis or snail fever
  • Soil-transmitted helminthiases [Ascariasis (Roundworm), Ancylostomiasis (Hookworm) and Trichuriasis (Whipworm)]
  • Taeniasis/Cysticercosis
  • Trachoma and yaws
  • Snakebite

NTDs affect 1 billion people globally. 500 million children are affected by NTDs, and worldwide 1 person out of 6 people is affected by a Neglected Tropical Disease.

The negative impact for NTDs is huge for creating disability, measured in DALYs (Disability Adjusted Life Years) which is the sum of years of potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability.

NTDs cause stigma creating mental health concerns and challenges. In children, worms cause malnutrition in children that leads to impaired development, growth and poor school performance.

Blindness from trachoma and onchocerciasis causes all manner of social, health, and economic consequences for the individual, and the community as a whole.

The WHO has urged countries that are impacted by NTDs to implement health programmes in response to the needs of the communities, including the provision of safe clean water and sanitation, mosquito and vector control programmes, insecticide-treated nets, and community-based mass treatment several times a year.

Written by Dr. Onuoha

Image by Godaddy stock photo



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