What are NTDs?
- Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in more than 140 countries.
- NTDs are caused by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.
- NTDs affect one in five people worldwide and are a key impediment to economic development. In addition to causing unbearable suffering and death, NTDs lead to other conditions like anemia and malnutrition, stunting growth and causing lifelong health and cognitive problems.
- They are called “neglected” because they generally afflict the world’s poor and historically have not received as much attention as other diseases.
- More than 70% of countries and territories that report the presence of neglected tropical diseases are low-income or lower middle-income economies.
- NTD includes Dengue, Blinding trachoma, Human dog-mediated rabies, Leprosy (Hansen disease), Endemic treponematoses (yaws), Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Leishmaniasis, Lymphatic filariasis, etc.
- The epidemiology of NTDs is complex and often related to environmental conditions. Many of them are vector-borne, have animal reservoirs and are associated with complex life cycles. All these factors make their public-health control challenging.
- NTDs are prevalent mainly in rural areas, in conflict zones and hard-to reach-regions. They thrive in areas where access to clean water and sanitation is scarce – worsened by climate change.
- Addressing these diseases requires cross-sectoral approaches and tackling associated mental health and other issues such as stigma and discrimination.
Control of NTDs
- Most can be controlled or even eliminated through mass administration of safe and effective medicines or other effective interventions.
- Controlling the vectors (e.g., mosquitoes, black flies) that transmit these diseases and improving basic water, sanitation, and hygiene are highly effective strategies against these NTDs
- The World Health Organization has recommended five interventions to overcome Neglected Tropical Diseases. These are: preventive chemotherapy; innovative and intensified disease management; vector ecology and management; veterinary public health services; and provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene.
Why in News?
- The World Health Organization has urged world leaders to ensure that the poorest and marginalized communities who are mostly affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) receive the health services they need.