When we think of curing or preventing diseases, we usually think of cancer, diabetes medications, and variety of neurological disorders. Wiping malaria and Zika would be great, too. But there’s an entire class of diseases, called Neglected Tropical Diseases, or NTDs, that are just as deadly.
NTDs commonly plague countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia. There are dozens of these diseases, and many cause crippling parasitic infections that can maim or even kill their victims.
Combined, NTDs are about as widespread as malaria, and just as deadly. And yet, they’re usually very simple to treat or prevent.
Many NTDs can be prevented with medications that only cost a few cents per person. Treatment is usually similarly cheap, and has almost a perfect success rate.
So why are NTDs still such a problem? YouTube user Kurzgesagt explains in a new video on this strange affliction:
The answer is due to the extreme isolation of many developing communities and the costs involved in protecting all of them. It’s difficult for many developing nations to afford enough medication to treat all of their citizens and even more difficult to get that medication to remote areas.
However, there’s some good news. In 2012, seven countries and 13 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies (along with the Gates Foundation, the World Bank, and the World Health Organization) signed the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases and pledged to control or eradicate 10 of the deadliest NTDs by the year 2020.
The declaration signers pledged hundreds of millions of dollars toward research and development of new medications, and many of the pharmaceutical companies delivered their medicines for free to developing countries.
The London Declaration has had a tremendous impact on NTDs. Infection and death rates have plummeted in the past few years, and one of them, the Guinea worm, is on track to become the first globally eradicated parasite.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, and there are some NTDs not covered by the London Declaration. But the amazing progress achieved over just a few years should give everyone some much needed hope for the future.
Source: Popular Mechanics