What are NTDs?
- Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of 20 conditions that are mainly prevalent in tropical areas, where they mostly affect impoverished communities and disproportionately affect women and children
- Neglected Tropical Diseases cause substantial illness for more than one billion people globally, affecting the world’s poorest people.
- NTDs are found in several countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. NTDs are especially common in tropical areas where people do not have access to clean water or safe ways to dispose of human waste.
- Some common examples are Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm Disease),Lymphatic Filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Schistosomiasis, Soil-transmitted Helminths (STH) ,Trachoma.
- 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.
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
Impact of NTDs
- WHO estimates that over 1.7 billion of the world’s population should be targeted by prevention and treatment activities for at least one of these diseases, every year.
- Approximately 200,000 deaths and 19 million disability adjusted life years (DALYs) lost annually.
- NTDs cost developing communities the equivalent of billions of United States dollars each year in direct health costs, loss of productivity and reduced socioeconomic and educational attainment.
- They are also responsible for other consequences such as disability, stigmatization, social exclusion and discrimination and place considerable financial strain on patients and their families.
Global response against NTDs
- The new NTD road map for 2021-2030, by the WHO that aims to control, prevent, eliminate and eradicate NTDs.
- Neglected tropical diseases have been formally recognized as a target for global action towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3).
Efforts by India
- National Vector Borne Disease Control Program (NVBDCP) under which Kala-azar Elimination Program and the Filariasis Elimination Program are operated.
- India is signatory to the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions on leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, and also Resolution on Neglected Tropical Diseases.
- In 2005, India signed a Tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Bangladesh, and Nepal to eliminate kala-azar.
- Preventive methods like Mass Drug Administration (MDA) rounds are periodically deployed in endemic areas during which anti-filarial medicines are provided free-of-cost to at-risk communities.
- Vector-control measures like Indoor Residual Spraying rounds are undertaken in endemic areas to prevent sandfly breeding. The government also supports morbidity management and disability prevention for those affected by lymphoedema and hydrocele.
- State and central governments have also introduced wage compensation schemes for those suffering from Kala-Azar.
Why in News?
- A vast majority of snakebite deaths (a Neglected tropical disease) globally up to 64,100 of the 78,600 deaths occur in India with Uttar Pradesh reporting the highest number of deaths followed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
- Study shows snakebite deaths in India are almost 80% of the global deaths.
- Despite such high number of deaths each year, there is no national strategy to address the burden of snakebite in India.
- Recently, there is some recognition of snakebite as a public health problem with the Indian Council of Medical Research launching a national survey to estimate the burden.
- With snakebite deaths globally being predominantly in India, the global target to halve snakebite deaths by 2030, cannot be attained without action in India.