Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of infections that are extremely rare or occur in areas of extreme poverty where people have little protection from the insects or animals that carry disease. These conditions are often overlooked by commercial pharmaceutical companies and as a result, treatment availability can be limited.
According to WHO, more than 1 billion people suffer from a neglected tropical disease. Neglected diseases represent a global health burden comparable to that caused by HIV/AIDS, TB or malaria. NTDs are particularly damaging to children, as infection can lead to malnutrition, cognitive delays, and stunted growth. Untreated NTDs can prevent children from attending school and cause chronic disability among adults.
In line with our mission to improve access to essential medicines, IDA Foundation has contributed to making medicines available for some “orphan diseases”. We supply praziquantel for the treatment of schistosomiasis, a parasitical infection that reaches the highest prevalence among five to fourteen year old children. Kala azar is a form of leishmaniasis that is found in 98 countries and is fatal if untreated. IDA has worked to keep one treatment option, sodium stibogluconate (SSG) available while newer medications are being developed. Another example of our work in this area is a de-worming project done with RTI International. In 2008-2009, IDA Foundation supplied over 28 million de-worming treatments to RTI projects worldwide.
The list of NTDs was updated in 2017; there are now 20 conditions addressed by the WHO. The five most prevalent NTDs are intestinal worms, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, and river blindness.