Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

Neglected tropical diseases:
  • Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.
  • They are caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths.
Diseases that are most prevalent in India:
  • They include lymphatic filariasis, soil transmitted helminthiases, trachoma, visceral leishmaniasis, dengue, rabies, cysticercosis and Japanese encephalitis. India also bears a high burden of intestinal worm infections (hookworms, whipworms and Ascaris worms).
Policy Initiatives:
  • National Deworming Day (February 10) children between ages 1 to 19 through schools and Anganwadi centres would have been dewormed in order to improve their nutritional status and well-being
  • Lymphatic Filariasis Programme will reach out to those above two years, by using health workers across select endemic districts to administer anti-filarial drugs. Both Programmes involve the distribution of drugs free of cost through periodic rounds of mass drug administration (MDA)
What needs to be done to make it Successful?
  • Clear communication strategies need to be evolved as many a time the benefit of such programmes is not understood by many
  • Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) strategies, a critical component of prevention and care for all NTDs needs to be realized
  • Focused efforts on WASH are a must especially in NTD control where transmission is closely linked to poor WASH conditions, examples being soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, trachoma and lymphatic filariasis.
  • NTD-control Programme can be designed to be community-based then these can act as a gateway to universal health coverage as it reaches marginalised populations through well-trusted health workers who provide quality, free-of-cost drugs to the population.

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