Neglected Tropical Diseases


    In Context

    • Recently, the “Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023” was published on World NTD Day- January 30th by WHO.

    Report highlights

    • Global burdon of NTDs:
    • According to the report, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) continue to disproportionately impact the most impoverished members of the international community, living in areas with 
      • inadequate water safety, 
      • sanitation and 
      • access to health care.
    • Some 16 countries accounted for 80 percent of the global NTD burden
    • Globally, nearly 1.65 billion people were estimated to require treatment for at least one NTD, the report highlighted.
    • Impact of COVID:
      • Report highlighted the advancement and challenges in delivering NTD care worldwide against a backdrop of COVID-19-related disruptions.
      • It also highlighted the tremendous effects COVID-19 had on community-based initiatives, access to healthcare facilities and healthcare goods supply chains. 
      • As a result, between 2019 and 2020, 34 percent fewer persons received treatment for NTDs.
    • Accomplishments: 
      • Despite challenges, some accomplishments were made on this front in 2021-2022.
      • More than one billion people have been treated for NTDs annually between 2016 and 2019, thanks to mass treatment initiatives. 
      • And in 2021, 25 percent fewer people needed treatments against NTDs than in 2010.
    • Need for efforts and investments:
      • It underscored greater efforts and investments required to reverse delays and accelerate progress towards the NTD road map targets by 2030.

    Report Suggestions

    • Collaborations and partnerships:
      • WHO urged multi-sectoral collaboration and partnerships to achieve these targets. 
    • Closing the gaps:
      • WHO called on additional partners and funders to step up and close the gaps preventing the full-scale implementation of NTD actions at the international and local levels.
    • WHO’s initiatives:
      • Over 100 scientific recommendations, tools, and other information products were produced as a result of WHO’s NTD efforts in 2021 and 2022 to support the international NTD community, particularly poor countries. 
      • The global health body launched an NTD channel with 36 training courses on 19 different topics for healthcare professionals.

    More about the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)

    • About:
      • NTDs are a diverse group of conditions mainly prevalent in tropical areas caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.
    • Dominant regions:
      • They are common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
    • Prioritization by WHO:
      • Twenty neglected tropical diseases are prioritized by the World Health Organization (WHO). 
      • Chromoblastomycosis and other deep mycoses, scabies and other ectoparasites, and snakebite envenomation were added to the list in 2017. 
    • Global issue:
      • These diseases are common in 149 countries, affecting more than 1.4 billion people (including more than 500 million children)and costing developing economies billions of dollars every year.
      • They resulted in 142,000 deaths in 2013—down from 204,000 deaths in 1990.

    NTD’s in India

    • Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) continue to pose a significant health burden on some of the most disadvantaged communities in India.
    • India has the world’s largest absolute burden of at least 10 major NTDs, including hookworm, dengue, lymphatic filariasis, leprosy, visceral leishmaniasis or kala-azar and rabies.
      • Lymphatic Filariasis is endemic in 328 districts across 21 states/Union territories. 
      • Kala-Azar is endemic in 54 districts across four states of India and together, these diseases affect 650 million and 140 million people in the country, respectively.
    • It is difficult to estimate the actual burden of NTDs in India as there is no single organisation or government agency which has been given this mandate.

    Government Initiatives

    • The Government of India is 100 percent committed to ending NTDs like Lymphatic Filariasis and Kala-Azar, in line with global elimination and control targets.
    • Preventive methods:
      • 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:
      • 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.
    • Target-oriented elimination:
      • Some of the vector-borne diseases (mosquito and sandfly) have been targeted for elimination or prevention by the National Centre for Vector Borne Disease Control and Programme for Leprosy and Soil Transmitted Helminths.
    • Wage compensation schemes:
      • State and central governments have also introduced wage compensation schemes for those suffering from Kala-Azar and its sequela (a condition which is the consequence of a previous disease or injury) known as Post-Kala Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis.

    Way ahead

    • We have the tools and the know-how not just to save lives and prevent suffering but to free entire communities and countries of these diseases. 
      • It’s time to act now, act together, and invest in NTDs.
    • India is poised to emerge as a global leader in the battle against NTDs, but success in this decade will demand bolder action. 
    • As India stands firm on its commitment to eliminate NTDs, multi-stakeholder and cross-sectoral partnerships and collaboration will continue to play a central role in sustaining the momentum gained.
    • An integrated approach to improving access to quality healthcare, water, sanitation, hygiene, addressing climate change and ensuring gender equity, mental health and well-being must lie at the core of eliminating these diverse NTDs.

    Source: TH