Research into neglected tropical diseases

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a collection of diseases which are prevalent in developing countries. The diseases included by the term varies, but the World Health Organization recognizes 19 diseases, including viral, bacterial and parasitic worm infections (such as soil transmitted helminthiasis). NTDs affect more than 1 billion people worldwide (World Health Organization 2016).

For some NTDs, we have treatments but no vaccines: for example, praziquantel is an effective treatment for schistosomiasis. For other NTDs, such as dengue, we have neither treatments nor vaccines.

Since there has been little assessment of this area, current cost-effectiveness estimates are very speculative. However, they indicate that research into NTDs may be several times more effective than other global health interventions. That said, it is difficult to assess which research programs are most effective without a detailed knowledge of the particularities of the research.

Further reading

Giving What We Can. 2015. Medical research.
An investigation into the effectiveness of medical research into neglected tropical diseases.

Karnofsky, Holden. 2015. Investigating neglected goals in scientific research.
A discussion by the Open Philanthropy Project on tropical diseases as a neglected research area.

World Health Organisation. 2016. Neglected tropical diseases.
Description of NTDs, with a list of which diseases are included.