What are Neglected Diseases?
Neglected diseases are conditions that affect the world’s poor. They are often infectious diseases and are common in tropical climates where there is contaminated drinking water, poor housing, malnutrition and little or no access to health care. These diseases affect the most marginalized, vulnerable people in the world. People who get these diseases normally live in rural communities or urban shanty towns.
Why are They Called Neglected Diseases?
These conditions are called neglected diseases because they are of little interest to researchers, drug developers, public health organizations, news media and most importantly, drug companies. Drug companies do not want to invest money in treatments for conditions that do not affect people in developed countries because they will never be able to recover the cost of developing and producing these drugs.
Neglected diseases rarely strike wealthy countries and even in poor countries they are not endemic or epidemic. These diseases do not kill in large numbers but have a large affect on the overall health of individuals and communities. Many neglected diseases lead to severe deformities and disabilities; they can also lead to death over a longer period of time.
What are Some Neglected Diseases?
The World Health Organizations Recognizes 17 diseases as Neglected Diseases, here are some of there:
- Onchocerciasis (River blindness)
- Dengue/Severe dengue
- Human African trypanosomiasis (Sleeping sickness)
- Ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection)
- Chagas disease
Please visit http://www.who.int/neglected_
What is the Impact of Neglected Diseases?
Worldwide more that one billion people suffer from at least one of these conditions. The disease burded of these conditions is bigger that malaria, tuberculosis and measles. Latin America and the Caribean are particularly burned by neglected diseases. While these regions are not the poorest in the world they have some of the highest rates of inequality.
How Can Neglected Diseases be Prevented?
In order to tackle neglected diseases, many areas must be looked at. While treatments for these diseases are important the broader social determinants of health also need to be addressed. Improving sanitation, housing, food security and general human rights will go a long way in making sure the poorest of the poor are healthier overall.
Access to medical care and diagnosis is also a problem because many people with neglected diseases are never diagnosed with these conditions due to lack of medical care and resources. There also needs to be a broader public awareness of both neglected diseases and the impact poverty has on health world wide.
– Elizabeth Brown