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  • 01 February, 2022

  • 5 Min Read

World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day

World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day

  • Observing the 3rd World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day on 30th Jan 2022, as a key moment to highlight the global community’s commitment to ending NTDs, India joined close to 40 other nations to illuminate the iconic New Delhi Railway Station in purple and orange hues, which is one of the busiest railway stations in the country in terms of train frequency and passenger movement.

  • NTDs are caused mostly by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins. They affect over 1.7 billion people globally.

  • They are “neglected” because they are almost absent from the global health agenda of developed countries and are associated with stigma and social exclusion.
  • According to a recent study posted by the Public Library of Science ( PLOS), India ranks number one globally for the most number of cases when it comes to 11 neglected tropical diseases (NTD). The NTDs include Ascariasis, Hookworm disease, Trichuriasis, Dengue, Lymphatic filariasis (LF), Trachoma, Cysticercosis, and Leprosy, Cystic echinococcosis, Visceral leishmaniasis and Rabies.
  • NTDs are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions across 149 countries, which also includes India, according to WHO.
  • A study by WHO affirms this in a report that suggests that India has the most number of total cases of all major NTDs excluding those that are spatially bound because of transmission through unique insects or snails (e.g., schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, human African trypanosomiasis and Chagas disease). Looking at the figures, it is possible that India’s high ranking extends beyond the diseases currently considered as NTDs by WHO.
  • Since India is the world’s second most populous nation and accounts for about 18% of the world’s population, it is expected to harbour a significant NTD burden. However, the fact these diseases are also associated with economic backwardness means that India can essentially have no excuse for topping the list.
  • The tropical country, in spite of being the seventh largest GDP in the world, spends as little as 1.2% of its GDP on healthcare. The result of this neglect is that more than 50% of cases of dengue, leprosy and trachoma occur in India. While the cases of trichuriasis and cystic echinococcosis in India account for about 16% and 12% of the cases across the world respectively, other NTDs - ascariasis, hookworm disease, lymphatic filariasis, cysticercosis, visceral leishmaniasis and rabies - are about 18% to 45%.
  • Moreover, the cases of NTDs in India are not evenly distributed, but instead are focused on sections of poverty in both, urban and rural areas. If left unchecked the diseases are expected to reduce India’s economy by impairing worker productivity and intellectual growth in children. The global community’s focus on India’s NTD problem could dramatically advance the global health agenda.

Source: PIB

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01 Feb,2024


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