Putting neglected tropical diseases under spotlight

From Global development | The Guardian Tue Nov 27 2012, 13:09:45

The development community is finally talking about how best to fight NTDs but more consensus and practical action is needed

The London conference on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) held in January was a seminal moment in the global fight against a group of diseases which are often overshadowed in the global health agenda by HIV, malaria and TB.

NTDs - a medically diverse group of 17 tropical diseases such as soil-transmitted helminths (roundworm, hookworm and whipworm), blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and onchocerciasis (river blindness) - typically affect the poorest of the poor. They affect one in six people globally; they rarely kill but disable and weaken, putting individuals at risk of other conditions and costing billions in healthcare and lost productivity.

Preventive chemotherapy, in the form of mass drug administration (MDA), has proved tremendously effective and economical (most drugs are donated): it costs just $0.5 per person per year to treat the seven most common NTDs.

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