Neglected Tropical Diseases

WHO's definition of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the narrower sense comprises 17 diseases that are endemic in tropical regions and that are, for the most part, completely unknown here. They include, for instance, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leishmaniasis and dengue fever (for a full list, click here).They affect more than 1.4 billion people worldwide, killing many millions of them each year.

As a result, neglected tropical diseases are highly relevant for global health. Their rate and spread cannot be fully explained by climatic conditions alone, though. Other major reasons for the high disease burden due to NTDs are, first and foremost, lack of access to medicines or vaccines that can be effectively used in resource-poor settings. There are next to no financial incentives to develop such medicines or vaccines, since the affected countries tend to have weak economies. Also, a lack of, or insufficient access to, health services adds to the poor health care delivery. In many cases, moreover, these diseases are caused by poor hygiene and lack of access to clean water. Improvements are possible if the various factors at play are properly addressed.
Since 2011, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research has been continuously expanding the funding provided within its research funding concept for neglected and poverty-related diseases and has meanwhile become the biggest German sponsor in this field.