The Chronic Pandemic of NTDs

15 Sep 2016

In a Lancet review paper published this week, Professor David Molyneux, Dr Dirk Engels and Dr Lorenzo Savioli look at the progress made in addressing “the chronic pandemic of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)”. The authors discuss the progress made in terms of donated medicines used in mass drug administration (MDA) interventions and highlight some of the challenges that need to be addressed to ensure the massive impact of neglected tropical disease (NTDs) is fully mitigated.

“It is testament to how far we’ve come that NTDs have been included in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and are now recognised as true markers of poverty.  But there is still no recognition of the true level of mortality associated with this particular group of diseases. Around 12 thousand people died as a result of the recent Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leonne and Liberia, but during the same period of time at least 10 times that many people died as a result of NTDs", Professor Molyneux.

The paper frames the progress made in the field of NTDs against the challenges that remain to reach the SDGs,  including those of a biological and socioeconomic nature as well as environmental issues such as security, conflict and extreme climate change.

“It is important that we see continued investment into the research of NTDs. “We need new drugs to combat resistance and better diagnostic tools in order to identify and monitor these diseases. However with around $3 Billion in donated drugs available, what is vital is the commitment of endemic countries to provide the relatively small amounts of health spend that will ensure these drugs reach those most in need, ending the cycle of disease and poverty that has perpetuated this chronic pandemic.” 

You can read the full paper here.

David Molyneux is a Senior Professorial Fellow at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

He is Editorial Board member of the RSTMH's journals, Transactions and International Health.