Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are those kinds of communicable diseases that are found in tropical subtropical conditions. These diseases affect more than one billion people each year. The worst affected are people living in poverty, with no proper sanitation, and in close contact with viruses and bacteria and domestic animals and livestock. These diseases cost developing countries billions of dollars every year. Examples of such NTDs are Lassa fever in Nigeria and West African countries, Tuberculosis, acute viral haemorrhagic illness, leprosy, Chagas disease etc.
Lassa Fever kills about 17.8 percent of those in Nigeria who are sick. There were almost 4,000 reported cases of Lassa fever in 2020 alone, and more than 160 deaths. Acute viral haemorrhagic is an infection that can last anywhere from two days to twenty-one days and is transmitted to humans by contact with food or household products infected with rodent urine or feces, or from person to person. One of the prominent neglected tropical diseases is tuberculosis that has till affected more than 10 million people globally.
Neglected tropical diseases kill more people than the current COVID-19 pandemic. And regularly these numbers keep on rising, because NTDs are often limited to populations that are poor, live in remote areas, are densely present in countries where health and sanitation are inadequate. More than 70 per cent of countries and territories recording neglected tropical diseases are economies with low salaries and lower-middle incomes.
The effects of neglected tropical diseases are often long-term or life-long such as heart and kidney problems, visual impairment, seizures, and sickness. There are no effective medical systems and programs to look after this section of diseases, because, as the name suggests, it is often neglected by the global health community. Also, they do not have enough domestic and international donor support.
It is important and critical to formulating steps and policies to address these neglected tropical diseases. Developing countries with the largest burden of such ‘neglected diseases’ need to develop local health-care funding systems. All the lower-income and lower-middle-income countries need to pay attention to their sanitisation and disease inspection techniques.