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Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, are a group of 20 infectious diseases and conditions that disproportionately affect poor and marginalized populations.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, are a group of 20 infectious diseases and conditions that disproportionately affect poor and marginalized populations. NTDs coexist with poverty because they thrive in places with limited access to clean water, sanitation and protection from the carriers/transmitters of disease.

NTDs afflict more than 1.5 billion of the world’s poorest people and threaten the health of millions more. More than 836 million children are affected by NTDs, which can lead to blindness, deformities and malnutrition. NTDs are responsible for over half a million deaths each year and cause widespread physical disability, and consequently billions of dollars in lost productivity.

One hundred percent of low-income countries are affected by at least five NTDs simultaneously. Worldwide, 149 countries and territories are affected by at least one NTD.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONGRESS

Since its start in 2006, the U.S. Agency for International Development NTD program has supported the distribution of 2.8 billion safe and effective treatments to more than 1.4 billion people. The results are:

  • 315 million people no longer require treatment for lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis).
  • 151 million people no longer require treatment for blinding trachoma.
  • 10 million people no longer require treatment for onchocerciasis.
  • 10 countries have eliminated at least one disease.

Continued robust funding for the USAID NTD program is vital to contributing to the health and economic security of people around the globe. With consistent, reliable funding, the USAID NTD program can:

  • Maximize the benefits of increased drug donations received from pharmaceutical companies.
  • Ensure that all countries supported by USAID’s program can reach national scale and maintain progress toward 2030 control and elimination targets.
  • Strengthen health systems to sustain the tremendous gains to date.
  • Continue urgently needed investments in research and development including diagnostics and drugs for NTDs to ensure tools and strategies are available to overcome emerging challenges.

Photo Credit:  RTI International

WHY THIS INVESTMENT IS IMPORTANT

Among children, infection caused by NTDs leads to malnutrition, cognitive impairment, stunted growth, and the inability to attend school. Many people are unable to provide for themselves or their families and are left in a cycle of poverty because of social isolation and physical ailments which make working difficult. Studies show that NTD treatment is the single most cost-effective means of improving children’s attendance and increasing capacity to learn and concentrate in school. Just 50 cents can fund a rapid-impact package of medication to treat an individual for the five most common NTDs, making it a best buy in public health. The USAID NTD program leverages private sector donations to provide these treatments. Every $1 invested by the U.S. government leverages $26 in donated medicines for mass treatment campaigns.

Additional investment can maximize the benefits of increased drug donations received from pharmaceutical companies to ensure that all countries supported by U.S. government programming can reach national scale and maintain progress toward the World Health Organization 2030 goals. With additional funding, the U.S. can broaden preventive drug treatments for seven of the most prevalent NTDs by using an integrated mass drug administration delivery strategy that could be delivered by trained non-health personnel.

RESOURCES

The END Fund NTDs in Focus https://end.org/ntds-in-focus/

World Health Organization Neglected Tropical Diseases: https://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/en/

USAID NTD Fact Sheet: https://www.neglecteddiseases.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2019-usaid-ntd-fact-sheet.pdf

CONTRIBUTORS

Jodie Curtis, NTD Roundtable Co-chair, on behalf of the American Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, jodie.curtis@faegredrinker.com

James Hunter, NTD Roundtable Co-chair, on behalf of RTI International, jvhunter@rti.org

HEADER PHOTO CREDIT: RTI International