World NTD Day, achieving health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases
30 January 2022
This day is designated to raise awareness about Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The global health and development communities get together every year on January 30th to commemorate World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day.
What is NTD?
NTDs (neglected tropical diseases) are a varied set of infections that are frequent in low-income populations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and parasitic worms are among the pathogens that cause them. They are referred to as "neglected" because they are almost absent from the international health agenda. Drug developers, government authorities, public health programs, and the news media frequently overlook them. NTDs have very few resources and are nearly completely forgotten by global funding bodies. NTDs are diseases that affect underserved groups and are linked to low educational performance and limited professional prospects, as well as stigma and social marginalization. The link between a death and a neglected tropical disease that has been latent for a long time is sometimes overlooked. High endemicity locations are frequently isolated geographically, making treatment and prevention more difficult.
What is the purpose of the World NTD Day?
World NTD day is a chance to re-ignite the fight against these illnesses. Many NTDs can be successfully treated with currently available medications. Certain therapies are simple to perform and do not require a medical practitioner. In spite of this, treatments for many NTDs do not reach the people who need them the most. Every year, roughly half a million individuals die of NTDs and more than one billion are affected by it. World NTD Day provides an opportunity to individuals and global health organisations to focus on and take action for the millions of people who have limited or no access to prevention, treatment, and care services.
European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) tackling neglected diseases with vaccines
EVI supports global efforts to develop effective and affordable vaccines to combat poverty-related diseases and emerging infectious diseases since 1998. EVI has remained committed to supporting vaccine R&D with a special focus on NTDs and poverty-related disorders. Currently, EVI is leading the PREV PKDL project, which seeks to advance the clinical development of the ChAd63-KH vaccine for post-kala azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) with a network of local and global partners.
Leishmaniasis is a NTD that is caused by protozoan parasites in tropical and subtropical areas as well as southern Europe. The lesions or scars of leishmaniasis can induce self- and societal stigma, affecting the patient's quality of life and psychological well-being specially in children.
Additionally, EVI has also supported pre-clinical research for vaccines against dengue, chikungunya and onchocerciasis through TRANSVAC, a European vaccine research infrastructure project.
World NTD Day provides EVI and its partners with an opportunity to reflect on what else can be done towards achieving health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases, by advancing vaccine development forward.