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The content we last updated in 2011 appears below. This content is likely to be no longer fully accurate, both with respect to the research it presents and with respect to what it implies about our views and positions.
Published: 2009; Updated: 2011
"Neglected tropical diseases" (NTDs) are a specific set of chronic infectious diseases found primarily in tropical areas. They include (but are not limited to) a variety of intestinal worms, the disfiguring disease lymphatic filariasis, and the blinding diseases trachoma and river blindness. They do not include such well-known diseases as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. While most NTDs do not directly cause death, they can have debilitating consequences such as malnutrition, blindness, disfigurement, anemia, and low energy.3
Fortunately many NTDs are cheaply and safely treatable. For many of the diseases, a yearly dose of a combination of drugs administered to all residents of at-risk areas can effectively and inexpensively reduce prevalence.4
Charities run a variety of programs to combat NTDs. In our work, we have focused on the types of programs run by the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and the Deworm the World Initiative, led by Evidence Action, which focus on large-scale programs that provide individuals with doses every 6-months to two-years.
More details in our technical review of deworming programs.
From what we've seen, the major organizations focused on deworming work heavily with developing-world governments. They spend money on both advocacy and subsidies for government control programs. We therefore have the following questions:
For donors interested in using their donation to fight neglected tropical diseases, we recommend:
For background information on NTDs, see our summary of disease facts.
The Disease Control Priorities Project estimates that 31% of sub-Saharan Africans are infected with schistosomiasis (parasitic worm), and 3% with lymphatic filariasis. Trachoma and onchocerciasis (river blindness) are significantly less prevalent in Africa overall, but may be highly endemic in certain areas. Data from WHO, "Prevalence for Selected Causes in WHO Regions (2004)" (XLS).
More at our disease facts page.
See our comparative summary of proven programs, which includes programs to combat NTDs. Additionally, see our full reviews of drug distribution programs for lymphatic filariasis, drug distribution programs for river blindness, the SAFE program for trachoma, and deworming programs.