How Neglected Tropical Diseases Contribute to PovertyProminent diseases that affect developing countries receive little donor funding due to their lack of presence in more developed nations. As a result, over one billion people living in developing nations become infected by diseases. However, the rate of infection is higher in developing, tropical countries. Neglected tropical diseases are caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Neglected Tropical Diseases

Diseases such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis that do not receive adequate attention or funding are known as neglected tropical diseases. According to the World Health Organization, more than two billion people are at risk of such diseases. Lack of treatment for these diseases can result in blindness, developmental disabilities and malnutrition.

Common Neglected Tropical Diseases

  • Dengue fever: This disease is contracted through mosquitos, resulting in serious joint and muscle pain.
  • Ascariasis: As a result of a parasitic worm and unsanitary conditions, this disease usually has mild symptoms. However, with a high amount of worm infestation, the side effects can be more severe. More serious symptoms include abdominal pains, vomiting and even death.
  • Hookworm: This disease is contracted by walking barefoot on soil tainted with a significant amount of feces.
  • Leprosy: This infectious disease can lead to permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.
  • Trachoma: This bacterial disease leads to scarring on the inside of the eyelid that can cause blindness if left untreated.

Neglected tropical diseases flourish in areas with high levels of poverty due to the lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Additionally, the detrimental effects of these diseases create a decline in school enrollment and limit work productivity.

Prevention Methods

The best way to fight neglected tropical diseases is through prevention. Here are some ways to prevent such diseases in developing countries.

  • Improved sanitation: Clean access to water, improved food handling measures and better hygiene can prevent diseases such as guinea worm disease, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and trachoma.
  • Controlling vectors: Diseases that are spread by hosts can be prevented by managing the vectors. One method is significant insecticide spraying in areas where vectors gather and reproduce, killing bacteria become hosts and carriers.
  • Education programs: Educating people who are more vulnerable to these diseases greatly aids in prevention efforts. Through education programs, at-risk communities can learn how to limit the risk of infection. For example, communities can limit the number of diseases brought by mosquitoes by reducing standing water areas. Furthermore, sleeping under a bed net reduces the risk of contracting diseases carried by flies.

Bringing Awareness

Providing a platform to bring more awareness to neglected tropical diseases is vital in fighting them. The Neglected Tropical Diseases NGO Network, founded in 2009, provides opportunities for different NGOs to work together to find solutions to these diseases. The SCI Foundation, The Partnership for Child Development and Water Aid are just a few NGOs that are a part of the network.

Programs and Forums like The Neglected Tropical Diseases NGO Network play an essential role in gaining the attention and funding required to aid impoverished areas. Working to prevent these diseases also helps to reduce poverty. Millions of people suffer from these debilitating diseases, and spreading awareness is a small thing that can lead to big change.

– Celia Brocker
Photo: Flickr

the END FundNeglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of diseases caused by a variety of pathogens that are common in low-income regions. The World Health Organization WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) categorize 20 diseases as NTDs. They affect more than one billion people around the world, with more than a third of people affected by NTDs living in Africa. While about one-sixth of the world’s population suffers from at least one NTD, more attention is often brought to other diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. While these other diseases require a high level of attention, NTDs need prioritization too. The effects of NTDs can last for decades if proper care is not sought out as many have the ability to bring on permanent blindness and disfigurement. It is of the utmost importance that NTDs are addressed and one such organization putting in the work is the END Fund.

The END Fund

The END Fund is a nonprofit organization that seeks to protect the lives of people at risk of NTDs. It delivers treatments by working with local partners, understanding that these groups have regional expertise and know the needs of their area best.

The END Fund helps its partners design programs so that they can expand their capacity to collect important data regarding NTDs. Further, the END Fund provides technical support and monitors progress so its partners can fight disease in the most effective way possible.

It also collaborates with non-governmental organizations and seeks to involve all stakeholders in order to improve the lives of those at risk of contracting NTDs. The END Fund is active across many countries in sub-Saharan Africa as well as India and Afghanistan. It has programs in Nigeria, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and others.

NTDs in Nigeria

The country with the greatest prevalence of NTDs in Africa is Nigeria. With a population of 195 million people, five of the most common NTDs are present: intestinal worms, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, schistosomiasis and trachoma. These diseases can cause severe pain that inhibits people from going about their daily lives. Children miss out on their education and adults miss out on economic opportunities. NTDs can cause the already impoverished to sink even deeper into poverty.

In 2013, the END Fund arrived in Nigeria. Two years later, it partnered with Helen Keller International to support local partners, the Amen Foundation and Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH). It has since helped build the capacity of these groups so that they can respond to the issue of NTDs even stronger. It engaged with local leaders across many levels to make people aware of the treatment plans that are available. Among traditional groups, leaders took medication in front of many people to show that it was safe.

The End Fund’s Impact

In 2019 alone, the END Fund was able to treat 121 million people. The END Fund also trained 2.7 million healthcare workers between 2012 and 2019. Its workers have performed almost 31,000 surgeries during that same time period, with the treatments valued at more than $1 billion.

NTDs pose a great threat to people in developing countries. The END Fund has been able to accomplish a lot through its collaborative projects in Nigeria and across other countries. The END Fund will continue to work toward its vision of ensuring that people at risk of NTDs can live healthy lives.

– Evan Driscoll
Photo: Flickr

PA 10 facts About Life Expectancy in Madagascar
Madagascar, the fourth largest island in the world, is also one of the poorest countries in the world. A lacking healthcare system, malnutrition and prevalent diseases all lead to one question: how long do people live in Madagascar? Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in Madagascar.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Madagascar

  1. The latest WHO data reports the life expectancy in Madagascar to be 65.1 years for males and 68.2 for females, making the average life expectancy 66.6 years. Madagascar is currently ranked 175th in life expectancy out of 223 nations measured, according to the CIA.
  2. The life expectancy rate has increased exponentially from 1960 to today. The World Bank reports that in 1960, the average life expectancy was 39.96 years, and by 2016, it had grown to 65.93 years.
  3. According to Health Data, diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, neonatal disorders and stroke are among the top causes of death in the country. The causes have persisted since the conduction of the study in 2007; however, there has been a change in the number of deaths for each cause.
  4. The Healthcare Access and Quality Index measures healthcare access and quality. In 1990, Madagascar received a score of 20.6 on the index, and in 2016, the country received a 29.6. Compared to leading nations like Iceland, with a score of 97.1, Madagascar’s performance on this index demonstrates the room for improvement.
  5. In 2015, a total of $78 per person was spent on health in Madagascar. The breakdown of the expenses is as follows: $5 from prepaid private spending, $17 out-of-pocket spending, $33 government health spending and $22 development assistance for health. The country is expected to increase the per capita amount to $112 by 2040.
  6. Madagascar has introduced a number of initiatives to move towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), specifically, the goal to reduce extreme poverty by half.  However, in 1993, 67.1 percent of the population was living below $1.25 per day, while in 2010, that number increased to 87.67 percent.
  7. One such initiative working to reach the MDGs was approved by the World Bank in June 2017. The new Country Partnership Framework aims to improve governance and strengthen finances, as well as reduce poverty, particularly in rural areas. Living in poverty is linked to a variety of issues, but studies have shown that those living in poverty are more likely to have a lower life expectancy.
  8. Due to the new Country Partnership Framework, improvements in the country can be seen in areas of health, education and private sector development. Preventative treatment for tropical diseases such as bilharzia and intestinal worms has been distributed to 1.8 million school-aged children over the past few years (with Bilharzia receiving 100 percent coverage in the country).
  9. In 2017, 6.85 million people received treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a decrease compared to the 8.73 million people who received treatment in 2016. Madagascar ranks 37th out of the 49 countries when it comes to treatment. There are some diseases that receive 0 percent coverage, such as elephantiasis, while other diseases receive partial coverage, such as intestinal worms.
  10. UNICEF is working to improve healthcare access in Madagascar, and it has been expanding integrated health services with a focus on newborns. Due to their efforts, poliomyelitis was eradicated and 43 percent of the population (which includes 3.5 million children) experienced an improvement in their access to health services.

Madagascar’s lacking healthcare system is being tackled from a variety of angles, as illustrated by these 10 facts about life expectancy in Madagascar. The country is working to reduce poverty and better the lives of its citizens in every regard; however, there is room for progress.

Simone Edwards

Photo: Flickr

African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control’s Tremendous Success in Eliminating River Blindness in Senegal
Onchocerciasis, more commonly known as river blindness, is a skin and eye disease transmitted to people by infected blackflies. The infection is classified as a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) due to its prevalence and intensity. The World Health Organization reports that river blindness is the “world’s second leading infectious cause of blindness.” This process prevents adults and children from participating fully in everyday life, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Fortunately, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control has shown tremendous success in eliminating river blindness in Senegal.

Of all the people infected, 90 percent live in African Regions, particularly around fertile river valleys. In these areas around 50 percent of men over the age of 40 have been blinded because of the disease. There have been around 37 million people affected by onchocerciasis. Although the numbers remain high, they illustrate a tremendous improvement in reducing river blindness. Some countries have even been able to eliminate the disease.


World Food Programme reports Senegal as having “persistently high poverty rates” typically around 75 percent of people living in chronic poverty. Additionally, 17 percent of people living in rural areas are food insecure. With high poverty rates often comes vulnerability to disease often due to a lack of resources and access to healthcare facilities.

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that river blindness in Senegal showed a drastic disappearance after just 15-17 years of annual treatments. By 2016, 7.2 million people had received treatment for various NTDs. For river blindness alone, the overall treatment coverage had increased from 51 percent to 69 percent that year. This means around 629,000 people received treatment in 2016 while 915,000 were pending treatment in Senegal.

African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC)

Much of the success in eliminating river blindness in Senegal is accredited to the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. In 1995, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) was launched to control onchocerciasis outbreaks throughout endemic countries in Africa. With funding from the World Bank’s Trust Fund mechanism, APOC was able to allocate money in accordance with each country’s unique needs. As of 2007, APOC had spent $112 million over 12 years of operations, which is relatively low.

In 2010, a total of 75.8 million people of APOC participating countries had received treatment. Projections show that by 2020, APOC will have eliminated river blindness in 12 countries. The program is unique in that it establishes a platform for community involvement. Rural communities feel a sense of empowerment at being able to take control of the situations and help the people in their community.

Community-Directed Treatment of Invermectin (CDTI)

The African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control uses resources readily available in the participating communities, particularly citizen volunteers who conduct most of the local healthcare. Getting to rural areas is incredibly difficult due to terrain, so the implementation of mobile units was found to be ineffective. Often higher risk communities needed a response quicker than what the mobile units could execute, which is where having local volunteers is so vital.

Volunteers are locally elected and trained by professionals in APOC. Their main goals are to collect and administer the ivermectin tablets, the main medicine for treating river blindness. WHO advises a yearly dose for around 10-15 years.  Within their communities, they track and detect signs of infections. In cases were treatments require more care, volunteers are expected to help their patients get to the nearest health facility. In this process, the communities gain a sense of empowerment and engagement by being involved in solving their own health and development.


By 2006, 11 years after the program’s initial launch, APOC was able to treat 46.2 million people. By 2015, the number more than doubled to 114 million people. World Health Organization reports that in 2014, more than 112 million people were treated for onchocerciasis within 22 countries in Africa- representing 65 percent of global coverage.

World Health Organization has made plans to model the efforts of APOC. The involvement of the community in the process of medicinal distribution proved revolutionary in eliminating the presence of river blindness in Senegal. Additionally, to meet the Millennium Development Goal number one, poverty alleviation, WHO’s Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases has created a guide for further eliminating river blindness throughout Africa. Most of these goals will be reviewed in 2020.

Progress is happening. APOC was able to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of almost eliminating the presence of river blindness in Senegal. Projects will continue to be successful if they use techniques like monthly treatments and the incorporation of the people in local communities to continue in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

Taylor Jennings
Photo: Flickr

Snakebite EnvenomingSnakebite envenoming is defined as the possible life-threatening effects resulting from the injection of toxic venom after a snakebite from a venomous snake or from a snake “spiting,” venom into the eyes. Currently, there are about 3,000 species of snakes worldwide. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has placed a priority on 250 of them for the high medical risks they pose to humans. Further, the WHO is concerned because these highly venomous snakes are dispersed around the world and can be found in approximately 160 countries. Every year, nearly five million people suffer snakebites, resulting in about 2.7 million cases of envenoming, which can cause serious medical consequences, including amputations and other permanent disabilities.

Tropical and sub-tropical regions are of particular concern when it comes to snakebites. Generally speaking, following the latitudinal lines around the globe, the highest concentrations of highly venomous snakes are situated in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America. To compound the problem, most countries suffering from the presence of these deadly creatures happen to be facing a second challenge: poverty.

“This study, the first of its kind, unequivocally demonstrates that snakebite envenoming is a disease of the poor. The negative association between snakebite deaths and government expenditure on health confirms that the burden of mortality is highest in those countries least able to deal with the considerable financial cost of snakebite,” writes Robert Harrison, a researcher and published scientist. In essence, the risk of being bitten by a snake is geographically located in the same places where medical treatment is either unavailable or inadequate. Worse yet, Harrison wrote that every year, more people die in the tropics as a result of snakebites than they do from some of the most recognized tropical diseases. However, the WHO has recently changed this.

On June 9, 2017, the WHO classified snake envenoming as a Category A Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD). By this adjustment of status, snakebite envenoming is now eligible for new funding and for a much broader research platform, including collecting epidemiological findings to create a more universal “catalog” of anti-venoms that are more accessible and which affected populations are more educated on.

Moreover, the WHO is capitalizing on what information has been gathered by creating a categorical reference online. By equipping people with geographic-specific risks, hopefully less people will need access to the anti-venom collaborative. Overall, the WHO has made the snakebite issue a priority, and is subsequently treating it like it would treat any other NTD.

By providing free resources for reference and making a status change for a disease, the necessary funds and research are available for researchers to collaborate and problem-solve. With so many snakes and species-specific venoms, the global community needs to rally behind the WHO in order to fight back safely against the risks snakes pose to those who – quite literally – cannot afford the bite and the envenoming that results.

Taylor Elkins

Photo: Flickr

End Neglected Tropical DiseasesPrevalent in more than 149 countries, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a range of parasitic and bacterial diseases that affect more than a billion people across the world. Neglected Tropical Diseases disproportionately target poor and vulnerable populations in tropical areas, and if not treated, can often lead to physical and intellectual impairments. Fortunately, humanitarian organizations such as USAID are working alongside U.S. Congress in order to end Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Typically caused by inadequate sanitation and lack of clean drinking water, NTDs vary in their effect but can prove detrimental, especially in children. These diseases can impair intellectual development in children as well as cause blindness and other physical disabilities. The health costs are not the problem caused by NTDs, as they also reduce school enrollment and prevent economic progress because infected individuals are limited in ability. This is why it is critical to end Neglected Tropical Diseases.

USAID is leading the global fight against NTDs. It implemented large-scale treatment programs and research for the affected countries. In the past 10 years, the U.S. made great progress in this fight, giving more than $11.1 billion in donated medicines. This contribution provided more than 1.6 billion treatments to approximately 743 million individuals.

The U.S. impact does not end there. In addition to the treatment programs and research implemented by USAID, Congress also prioritized this issue by introducing the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act (H.R. 1415).

H.R. 1415, sponsored by Representative Christopher Smith (D-NJ), advances the current program working against NTDs. This act prioritizes improving the current program by monitoring funding, including morbidity management in treatment plans and expanding research development. So far, this act has five cosponsors and was referred to three House sub-committees.

Although USAID led a strong battle against NTDs, there is still much work to be done for the one billion people affected by this problem. As NTDs are slowly eradicated, the livelihoods of the world’s poor will begin to improve as children can return to school and adults are able to achieve financial stability.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr

tropical diseases
Neglected tropical diseases
are diseases that are either bacterial or parasitic and infect around one in six people around the world. Over half of a billion children are infected with these diseases.

These diseases are considered “neglected” because they do not receive very much attention or funding from governments or medical communities around the world.

These diseases tend to be especially widespread in areas with high levels of poverty, bad sanitation and poor access to health care. These diseases tend to especially affect women and children.

While they are grouped together, neglected tropical diseases can be very different from one another. Some kill quickly while others will infect for years or simply harm, but not kill, their victims. Some are parasitic, caused by parasites, and spread through mosquitoes, snails or flies. Others are bacterial and are spread through water or soil.

Treatments for these diseases also vary. Some have cheap treatments available (although this could potentially lead to drug resistance), others have no treatment or a very expensive or difficult treatment.

According to the World Health Organization there are 17 neglected tropical diseases. Here is a brief description of the seven most common neglected tropical diseases. These seven diseases account for 90 percent of global cases of neglected tropical diseases.

1. Ascariasis (roundworm) is the infection of the small intestine that is caused by a roundworm. The eggs of the roundworm are often ingested and the eggs then hatch in the person’s intestine. They then reach the lungs through the bloodstream. The worms can grow to be longer than 30 centimeters. Roundworm causes about 60,000 deaths each year.

2. Trichuriasis (whipworm) is spread and moves through the body like roundworm. Around the world about 700 million people are infected with whipworm.

3. Schistosomiasis (snail fever) is caused by parasitic worms. A person can become infected by coming in direct contact with contaminated fresh water. Over 200 million are infected with snail fever around the world.

4. Lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) is transmitted through mosquitoes and damages the lymphatic system causing painful, visible disfigurations. More than 120 million are infected around the world.

5. Trachoma is an infection of bacteria in the eye, causing the yield to turn inwards, eventually resulting in blindness. Six million people are blind due to trachoma.

6. Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is a parasitic disease caused by flies that carry larval worms that grow to cause blindness, lesions and loss of pigmentation in the skin.

7. Hookworm is spread and moves through the body like whipworm and roundworm. Around 600 million people throughout the world are infected with hookworm.

Although neglected tropical diseases affect millions, they are relatively inexpensive to treat: for around 50 cents a year, one person could be treated and protected for all of the seven most common neglected diseases.

– Lily Tyson

Sources: Reuters, Global Network, CDC, WHO
Photo: EndTheNeglect

END7, an international advocacy campaign, aims to end seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDS) by 2020. It is currently raising awareness of the seven most common NTDs, and the easy and cheap resources available to eliminate them.

Cheap is not an understatement — it takes only 50 cents to treat and protect one person against all seven NTDS.

While 2020 may seem like an overly optimistic date to have eliminated seven diseases, treatments for all NTDs exist — it’s just a matter of getting them to those in need. The seven diseases include Hookworm, Roundworm, Whipworm, Elephantiasis, Trachoma, River Blindness and Snail Fever.

Nearly one in six people worldwide, including over half a billion children, have these diseases living and breeding inside their bodies. The effects of these diseases can be devastating, causing blindness, massive swelling in limbs, severe malnutrition, pregnancy complications and anemia.

Apart from the horrific effects of NTDs, these diseases makes it increasingly difficult for affected families to lift themselves out of poverty. They prevent children from going to school.

In order to spread the word about their cause and the work being done to help victims of NTDs, END7 utilizes social media outlets, hoping to target young activists who will then share the word with others. The goal is to get the general public involved, not just doctors and health care professionals.

The campaign asks the community to donate to NTD prevention and treatment programs. These programs deliver the medications to schools and poor communities all over the globe.

How can it be so cheap? Drugs to treat NTDS are donated by pharmaceutical companies, allowing for the remaining cost to come only in distributing the drugs to those in need.

Bill Nighy, who provides a voice for many of the END7 videos, describes his astonishment in the opportunity at hand, stating, “I’m shocked by how much devastation these diseases cause. But what shocks me more is how simple the solution is.”

If pocket change can provide a cure for seven diseases, it seems that a cure in 2020 may not seem so far out of reach after all.

 — Caroline Logan

Sources: END7, TwitChange
Photo: Northeastern

In a press release dated April 2, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it had partnered with the World Bank, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and a number of other groups to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

NTDs are parasitic and bacterial types of infections that affect one in every six people worldwide. These infections not only cause a person to become ill, but can also disable or disfigure a person who has been infected. The infections are also more commonly found in poorer populations because they lack a great deal of proper health care services and preventative measures.

In 2012, the London Declaration brought together 13 pharmaceutical companies as well as a number of global health organizations, private organizations and other donors to help fight NTDs. These pharmaceutical companies donated medications to fight 10 diseases: river blindness, Guinea worm, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthes, Chagas disease, visceral leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness.

As part of the April announcement, a report was released regarding the progress that has been made over the past two years. Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, discussed the “tremendous progress” that the pharmaceutical companies’ donations had made.

Additionally, the announcement included the introduction of new partners that are together committing to donate over $240 million to go towards fighting soil-transmitted helminthes, a type of intestinal worm that is wreaking havoc in impoverished countries. Intestinal worms are often found in areas that have only limited access to both clean water and sanitation services and today these worms infect many children.

The CIFF has pledged to donate $50 million to the cause, while the World Bank Group has pledged to give $120 million to fight NTDs. The World Bank Group’s donation from the International Development Association (IDA) will also go towards providing deworming treatments at schools. In the past, the World Bank Group has participated in the fight against NTDs through the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control.

Jamie Cooper-Hohn, Chair of CIFF, said in the announcement, “CIFF is now committing an additional US $50 million over the next five years to implement large-scale systematic approaches to deworming in a number of countries, with the hope that, ultimately, we can break the transmission of worms and achieve the vision of: every child everywhere, free from worms forever.”

The newest drug donors include Bayer, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Eisai, Gilead and Pfizer. These companies are concentrating their energy on research and development and are also working on implementing new treatment techniques.

In light of the new partnerships, Christopher Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi said, “Industry partners are eager to work together to build on longstanding efforts to combat NTDs, develop new drugs and diagnostics and go beyond drug donations to ensure life-saving and preventative solutions meet those in need.” Viehbacher went on to say, “We are committed to improving the lives of millions of people who suffer from these horrific diseases and helping boost communities and economies.”

The goal of these groups is to both control and eliminate 10 NTDs by 2020. These new partnerships hope to work together to best combat the effects of NTDs and to one day, rid the world of them altogether.

– Julie Guacci

Sources: The Gates Foundation, Reuters, Science World Report
Photo: BioNews Texas

The United Nations has a well-stated goal to end extreme global poverty by the year 2030, and to achieve that goal their agencies are fighting on a number of fronts. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has recently announced the importance that Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) have in the fight against global poverty. Ban wrote in a recent letter that, “poverty reduction and the elimination of NTDs go hand-in-hand.” He has also issued a report on the importance of eliminating these preventable diseases.

Recent studies done by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases state that one in six people in the world suffer from an NTD. Neglected Tropical Diseases are considered any one of 17 parasitic and bacterial infections, seen as precursors to such widely known diseases as malaria and tuberculosis. The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases states that they “disable and trap the poor in a cycle of poverty… by undercutting adults’ ability to work productively and take care of their families.”

These diseases are considered “neglected,” because they are treatable, yet the money and resources are not available in many developing nations. Instead it is up to agencies and networks to get the proper necessities to the people. Organizations like the World Health Assembly, the World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have all made pledges to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, yet the problem is still rampant in certain areas of the world.

Neglected Tropical Diseases are fought in a number of ways, but general methods focus on providing people with basic needs such as safe drinking water and accessible health care. Researchers are currently developing vaccines to combat various Neglected Tropical Diseases, while others struggle to gain access to existing drugs for diseases like malaria.

While agencies like the World Bank and the United Nations are working to fight the spread of these diseases, their efforts are spread thin over a number of areas. Cholera is considered an NTD by some, and it has emerged as a major problem in post-earthquake Haiti. Cholera has once again become an epidemic, as aid from the earthquake has begun to disappear. Recently, over 5,000 Haitians filed a lawsuit against the UN, blaming the organization for the outbreak. According to one study, 700,000 cases of cholera have been diagnosed in Haiti in the past three years, pointing to the epidemic plaguing the country.

The fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases is closely tied to the fight against global poverty. Some of these diseases have been problems in the world for hundreds of years, yet in the Western world they have largely become a thing of the past. It is up to the leaders of wealthy, Western nations to take up this fight and give people in developing countries a fighting chance to participate in the global economy and create a safer world for their families.

Eric Gustafsson

Sources: Global Network, The Guardian, Malaria Policy Center, Global Network, NIH
Photo: Bionews Texas