Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Profile of Poverty Disease
Records say that there are a billion people which is one-sixth of the entire world’s population is suffering from one or more Neglected Tropical Diseases or NTD.
Some identified NTD are lymphatic filariasis or LF, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, infections from the soil-transmitted helminthes such as ascaris, whipworm, and hookworm and trachoma. These are extremely severe group of parasitic, bacterial, and viral infections which cause deformities, chronic disabilities, and social stigmatization annually. While they vary in terms of their effects on human health, their common denomination is that these infections are common in places or countries with severe poverty. They are in places with poor sanitation, where insects and other disease-carrying animals live. They are in places where people have less or no political voice or do not have the access to essential drugs to prevent and treat these infections. They continue to spread because the majority of their victims are those who are marginalized and “forgotten” by organizations and people with advanced technology, money, and the influence to promote change. And since only the marginalized countries are affected by these NTDs, there are less motivation for the pharmaceutical companies to formulate therapeutic medicines or vaccines to prevent and treat these diseases. Between 1975 and 1999, it was reported that from nearly 1,400 therapeutic drugs which were developed, there was only less than 1% were intended to prevent and treat these NTDs.
Reports claim that most of those greatly affected are in sub-Sahara Africa where there is an approximately 90% of the total impact of death and disability are the results by NTDs. These NTDs cause chronic pain, disability, and suffering and when it is untreated, can lead to blindness, deformity and death. They also restrict the ability of the person to work and generate income, or to care for their families.
Centers for Disease Control, in collaboration with the US Global Health Initiative or GHI, are tasked to develop strategies to reduce the prevalence of NTDs by 50% among the 70% of the affected populations and play significant role in eradicating the onchocerciasis in US by 2016, eradicating the lymphatic filariasis worldwide by 2020, and the elimination of leprosy.
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