130729 Neglected Tropical Diseases CEH Journal Vol26

Neglected Tropical Diseases. Community Eye Health Journal Vol26

Seventeen neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is estimated that over 1 billion people are infected with NTDs, with a further 1 billion at risk.

The majority of NTDs occur in the tropics and sub-tropics and have particular characteristics in common:

• They afflict the poorest people – those without access to the safe water, sanitation, and basic health services required in order to protect themselves against infection by bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. High-income groups are rarely affected.

• Many are chronic, slowly developing conditions that become progressively worse if undetected and untreated. The damage they cause can be irreversible.

• They can cause severe pain and life-long disabilities, with long-term consequences for the person and also for family members who have to care for the person.

• People with NTDs are often stigmatised and excluded from society, and this can affect their mental health.

The individual diseases are very different, and one person can be affected by more than one disease at the same time.