BOX A19-1NTDs and Their Common Features

The list of NTDs is vast and virtually open ended. For the time being, WHO's work is confined to a list of 17 selected helminth, protozoal, and bacterial diseases. There are 149 countries and territories where NTDs are transmitted, and at least 100 of them are endemic for 2 or more diseases and 30 are endemic for 6 or more (WHO, 2010d).

The NTDs are quite a diverse and heterogeneous group of diseases. However, they share a number of common features:

  1. The Hallmark of Poverty and Underdevelopment
    The most striking common feature of the NTDs is that they affect almost exclusively poor and marginalized populations (Hotez et al., 2009) living in settings where poverty is widespread and resources, or access to livelihood opportunities, are scarce. NTDs have an enormous impact on individuals, families, and entire communities in developing countries in terms of burden of disease, quality of life, loss of productivity, aggravation of poverty, and the high cost of long-term care. They constitute a serious obstacle to socioeconomic development and quality of life at all levels.
  2. Diseases of Non–Decision Makers
    Affected populations often live in remote rural areas, in conflict zones, or in urban slums and have little political voice. They cannot readily influence administrative and governmental decisions that affect their health and often seem to have no constituency that speaks on their behalf. Diseases associated with rural poverty may have little impact on decision makers in capital cities (Pecoul, 2005).
  3. Association with Stigma and Discrimination, Especially of Women
    Many NTDs produce disfigurement and disability, leading to stigma and social discrimination. Their impact disproportionately affects women, whose marriage prospects may diminish or who may be left vulnerable to abuse and abandonment (Hotez, 2008).
  4. Not Traveling
    Unlike influenza, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and, to a lesser extent, tuberculosis, NTDs generally do not travel and seem to present little threat to the inhabitants of highincome countries. Rather, the distribution of NTDs is restricted by climate and its effect on the distribution of vectors and reservoir hosts; there appears to be little risk of transmission beyond the tropics (Pecoul, 2005).

From: A19, NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES: THE DEVELOPMENT OF A BRAND WITH NO COPYRIGHT. A SHIFT FROM A DISEASE-CENTERED TO A TOOL-CENTERED STRATEGIC APPROACH

Cover of The Causes and Impacts of Neglected Tropical and Zoonotic Diseases
The Causes and Impacts of Neglected Tropical and Zoonotic Diseases: Opportunities for Integrated Intervention Strategies.
Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats.
Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2011.
Copyright © 2011, National Academy of Sciences.

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