Neglected Tropical Diseases

Photo: Ana Palacios

The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of infectious diseases that inflict suffering and chronic disabilities on a billion of the most impoverished people in the world.

They affect communities without access to health services, adequate hygiene and sanitation or without drinking water. These tropical diseases cause disabilities, disfigurement, amputation, directly impacting on the health and trapping families in a cycle of poverty and disease. Approximately one in every 6 people in the world suffer from at least one of the 17 diseases catalogued as NTDs. They impact on the lives of millions of people who don't seem to exist, those millions of people living in inhumane conditions and that no one pays attention to. Our scope of healthcare intervention focuses on tropical diseases such as Buruli ulcer, yaws or leprosy. These are diseases of the skin, caused by different bacteria but visible, because they show on the outside as lesions. They can be prevented, detected on time and cured.

Currently our activity is developed in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin and Togo, four countries on the Gulf of Guinea where we have worked since we started to work on the continent, in 1994. Countries in which we have history, knowledge, recognition and above all the backing from the results achieved over that history in what has been one of the core areas of action of ANESVAD, the fight against the Buruli ulcer.

Integrated Projects

Depending on the disease in question, the strategy varies. Some require an individualized treatment, case by case analysing the circumstances, medication, operating according to the level and severity of the person concerned. Other, with known medical treatment and which can be cured, are put together with those that do not require such individualized treatment but rather can be cured with supply of medicines. In the case of the three diseases which we focus on, all require individualized treatment, analysis of each patient, the level of their injury, the type of treatment and their circumstances. Although it is true that the yaws can be combated with a medicine that is provided en masse to the people affected and to those that have close contact with them.

The commitment to promoting the integrated treatment of these diseases comes directly from the World Health Organization (WHO) and is based on an analysis of the cost-effect and impact. By looking at a community not only can a disease can be detected, but also others that share characteristics, and this is because for the ailments that we fight, the advantage is that they are visible as they are shown on the skin.

These are three of the seventeen Neglected Tropical Diseases catalogued by the World Health Organization, which affect millions of people in the world.

  • 1.Buruli ulcer
    • The Buruli ulcer is a chronic and debilitating infection of the skin and the soft tissues that can cause permanent disfigurement and disabilities.
    • The cause is the bacteria Mycobacterium ulcerate.
    • There have been cases in 33 countries with a subtropical climate. The majority are in Africa.
    • The exact mode of transfer of Mycobacterium ulcerate is unknown although its presence is associated with dirty and stagnant water.
    • The diagnosis and early treatment are the only means to minimize the morbidity and prevent lasting disabilities.
    • It is combated with antibiotics which are free to access in the 4 countries.

Photo: Ana Palacios

  • 2.Lepra
    • It is a chronic and infectious disease. It is the least infectious of the communicable diseases: the common cold is more contagious!
    • The cause is the bacteria (Mycobacterium leprae)
    • Annually an average of 200,000 cases are detected
    • It is transmitted via air, by drops from the nose or the mouth
    • Its incubation is very slow (up to 5 years). Symptoms appear for up to 20 years.
    • It affects the skin, nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and eyes
    • Effective and free antibiotic treatment since 1995
  • 3.Yaws
    • Infectious disease known as frambuesía (rassberry) due to what the ulcers look like
    • Caused by the bacterium Treponema pertenu paliidum
    • It spreads easily as it is transmitted through direct contact with the skin of an infected person
    • 13 endemic countries. 100,000 cases per year. 50 Millions of people require treatment
    • In 2012, a team of ISglobal researchers discovered how to cure it, a single pill of azithromycin, which in developed countries we take to cure a sore throat is enough to cure a person
    • It is the second disease in the history of mankind which can be eradicated, after smallpox

Help us prevent this...

  • One billion people affected around the world
  • WHO goals for 2020: control Buruli ulcer, eliminate leprosy and eradicate yaws

We're already helping prevent it here...

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