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Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries and affect more than one billion people, costing developing economies billions of dollars every year. They mainly affect populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock.Many of them cause severe disfigurement and disabilities, including blindness.

NTDs coexist with poverty because they thrive where access to clean water and sanitation is limited, and people live without protection from disease vectors. The NTDs also are recognized as a contributor to poverty since they can impair intellectual development in children, reduce school enrollment and hinder economic productivity by limiting the ability of infected individuals to work.

The Buruli ulcer disease mainly affects children under the age of 15, the reason for which is unknown and no research has been conducted about this, nor indeed into the methods of infection of this rare disease.In Africa, DAHW,Germany in partnership with Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg and long term partner Fondation Follereau Luxembourg (FFL)is working to achieve better diagnosis for patients and to finally find the causes of Buruli Ulcer.

More than 500 million people in India are at risk for one or more of the world’s five most prevalent NTDs: Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), Trachoma, and Soil transmitted Helminths (STHs) including Hookworm, Roundworm and Whipworm.

India has some of the largest and longstanding NTD programs in the world, but an additional 300 million people are in need of treatment. Global progress on NTDs hinges on India’s efforts and successes. India can scale up its efforts and serve as a model of success for NTD-endemic countries throughout the world.

Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephant foot)

Lymphatic filariasis caused by Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi is an important public health problem in India. Both parasites produce essentially similar clinical presentations in man, related mainly to the pathology of the lymphatic system. Filariasis is endemic in 17 States and six Union Territories, with about 553 million people at risk of infection. The Government of India has accorded a high priority for elimination of this infection through mass chemotherapy programme (annual, single dose of Diethylcarbamazine citrate, i.e. DEC – 6 mg/kg of bodyweight, plus Albendazole repeated four to six times). We discuss here the epidemiology and current control strategy for filariasis; highlighting key issues, challenges and options in the implementation of the programme, and suggesting measures for mid-course corrections in the elimination strategy.

Lymphatic filariasis affects the body by causing severe swelling in an arm, leg, breast, or the genital area. The skin of the affected area becomes very susceptible to bacterial infection. The skin can then become thickened and hard, a condition known as elephantiasis. People living for a long time in tropical or sub-tropical areas where the disease is common are at the greatest risk for infection.

GLRA India focuses on care and support for persons suffering from LF; also creating awareness about the disease in Malda (West Bengal) and Sitapur in UP work in collaboration with our partners to ensure,

  • Community awareness through active outreach
  • Strengthening of referral mechanisms
  • Capacity building of general health care system for effective follow-up
  • Case identification, confirmation, treatment and adherence
  • Promotion of limb care, hygiene and sanitation
  • Provision of customized protective footwear
  • Referral center for providing out-patient services for leprosy and LF
  • integrated prevention of disability (IPOD) camps for persons affected with leprosy and LF implemented at Panchayat-level
  • Improved public awareness and reduced stigma towards leprosy and LF
  • Increased capacity of the general healthcare system to provide quality services to persons affected with leprosy and lymphatic filariasis
Lymphatic Filariasis case story