By Eleni Fafoutis
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have been a problem in many third world countries for decades. These diseases, such as Chagas disease, dengue fever, bacterial ulcers, and tapeworms, kill thousands each year and leave thousands more disabled and dysfunctional. These diseases run rampant through impoverished areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin Americas. They have little or no chance to be cured due to minimal attention and research. These diseases are considered ‘neglected’ because little research or funding has been provided in the fight against them. Though some are fairly inexpensive to cure, such asschistosomiasis, which costs roughly $0.20 USD to treat, the funding has gone to the ‘big three’ of diseases: HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. Thus, these diseases have been allowed to spread in third world countries relatively unchecked.
Even if one survives a disease, it will often leave them horribly disfigured or in tremendous amounts of pain. Relapses of these diseases are always fatal, and infected people have to be extraordinarily careful in their ways of living. Also, many of these diseases damage them internally and leave them extremely susceptible to other ailments, such as HIV/AIDS and various forms of cancer. Socially, people who have contracted a NTD will be forced by their local customs to stay out of work, and they may not be allowed to marry and have children and are often forced out of their villages, causing them to be exiles and social outcasts.
Unfortunately,the world has done very little to help prevent the further spread of Neglected Tropical diseases. Only recently has any form of help been supplied to the people suffering from these ailments, mostly through mass drug administration provided by the World Health Organization.Though many of these diseases have a cheap cure, nations will not provide the funding either out of ignorance of these diseases, lack of funds, or refusal to acknowledge them as an issue. Because of lack of funding and treatment, these diseases will continue to spread and kill millions of impoverished people each year.