Monday, 1 March 2010


NTDs are the “neglected tropical diseases”: the soil-transmitted helminth infections, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, dracunculiasis, zoonotic helminthiases, dengue/dengue haemorrhagic fever, rabies, yaws, leishmaniasis, human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease, and Buruli ulcer. They affect over a billion people − see the WHO webpage Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. Four of them have been targeted for elimination in the South-East Asian region of WHO (Bangladesh, Bhutan, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives ,Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste), according to the paper Elimination of neglected tropical diseases in the South-East Asia Region of the World Health Organization which appears in this month’s issue of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. Here’s part of its conclusion:

Eliminating leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, kala-azar and yaws will greatly improve the lives of the poorest people and stimulate productivity and economic growth in remote, impoverished areas of the region. Ultimately, attempts at disease elimination will be most successful if accompanied by improved housing conditions, sanitation, nutrition and education, all of which affect vector control and access to preventive measures. If all these goals can be achieved together, the most damaging effects of poverty will be overcome [emphasis added].

So: improved housing, sanitation, nutrition and education. Not a philosophically difficult proposition, is it?