Neglected Tropical Diseases

Understanding Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a grouping of communicable diseases that flourish in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries worldwide1. NTD risk factors, which include access to adequate housing and/or sanitation and proximity to infectious vectors and livestock, are linked to one’s socio-economic status, since impoverished areas have the highest risk for NTD transmission.

Facts About NTDs2

  • More than one billion people are affected by NTDs globally.
  • An estimated 500,000 people die each year because of NTDs.
  • There are primarily 14 tropical diseases that fit under the category 'NTD.' They thrive in areas with limited access to safe water, proper sanitation, and basic health care. Because of this, most cases often go undiagnosed.
  • NTDs do not travel easily and therefore are concentrated in rural, impoverished areas i.e. urban slums or conflict zones.
  • NTDs are on the international agenda, WHO, along with partners and organizations like Uniting for Health Innovation, are working to tackle NTDs with scalable solutions.

The Economic Impact of NTDs

NTDs pose a substantial disease burden, particularly in relation to economic impact, for all impacted countries, many of which are developing. Identifying and quantifying this burden is a crucial step in establishing policy priorities and NTD management strategies. For example, Zika-related expenses include anti-mosquito efforts, awareness and education campaigns, and medical training and physician costs. In 2016 for LAC alone, Zika was estimated to cost $3.5 billion USD of 0.06% of GDP3.

NTDs in the Americas

Threats from NTDs (primarily mosquito-borne) are interconnected, and an efficient, streamlined approach across all sectors is vital in successfully addressing NTDs on a regional and global scale.

In the past, Uniting for Health Innovation has addressed the burden of many NTDs, including malaria, chikungunya, lymphatic filariasis, dengue, and Chagas disease.

Uniting for Health Innovation is committed to investing in NTD surveillance, prevention, and treatment/support strategies on an ongoing basis and works with key partners to tackle the following NTDs in LAC:


  1. World Health Organization, Neglected tropical diseases
  2. Imperial College London, 10 Facts on Neglected Tropical Diseases
  3. World Bank, The short-term economic costs of Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean (LCR)