Tropical parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases affect over 1.5 billion people, including 875 million children.
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are often unheard of because they do not kill large numbers of people. Although they don't have high mortality rates, NTDs cause tremendous suffering - severe pain, long-term disability, and limit people's ability to work.
NTDs are disfiguring, debilitating, and sometimes deadly. The pain they cause hampers adults' capacity to generate income, keeps children out of school and prevents families and communities from thriving. These diseases cost developing countries billions of dollars per year. (WHO)
Infection leads to malnutrition, cognitive impairment, stunted growth in children. Sufferers of NTDs are also socially stigmatised.
Most PRevalent NTDs
- Soil transmitted helminths (STHs)
Cause: Parasitic worms, mainly roundworm (ascaris lumbricoides), whipworm (trichuris trichiura) and hookworms (necator americanus, ancylostoma duodenale)
- Eggs of these worms present in human faeces can spread through contaminated soil in areas with poor sanitation. Infected children are physically, nutritionally and cognitively impaired.
- About 1.5 billion people are infected by STHs worldwide.
- Lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis)
Cause: Thread-like filarial worms (wuchereria bancrofti, brugia malayi, brugia timori)
- Lymphatic filariasis impairs the lymphatic system and can lead to the abnormal enlargement of body parts, causing pain, severe disability and social stigma.
- An estimated 36 million people live with this disease .
- Onchocerciasis (river blindness)
Cause: The parasitic worm onchocerca volvulus
- An eye and skin disease, which causes severe itching, disfiguring skin conditions and visual impairment, including blindness
- More than 99% of infected people live in 31 African countries
Cause: Blood flukes (trematode worms) of the genus Schistosoma
- Acute and chronic disease that causes anaemia, stunting and a reduced ability to learn or work. It can also lead to liver and kidney failure and bladder cancer.
- At least 218 million people required preventive treatment in 2015
Cause: The bacterium chlamydia trachomatis
- Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide
- Responsible for the blindness or visual impairment of about 1.9 million people
COST-EFFECTIVE SOLUTION: DEWORMING
Deworming through mass drug administration (MDA) is a safe and highly cost-effective way of eliminating NTDs. Many of these drugs are donated for free or can be purchased cheaply. (SCI)
NTDs can be treated or prevented by taking medication every 6-24 months. People have recently started using a combination of five drugs, known as a 'rapid impact package', which comprises five drugs that need only be taken once a year and allows all NTDs to be treated at once. (GWWC)
One-third of the total population in Africa - 230 million people - need a regular annual treatment of praziquantel, and 400 million people need a regular annual treatment of albendazole, to eliminate these parasitic diseases from their bodies. (SCI)