The Six Neglected Tropical Diseases
Leprosy is a chronic bacterial disease that attacks skin and nerves of the infected
individual. Without treatment leprosy leads to deformities of the face and limbs as well as nerve damage and other
complications. Antibiotic treatments can provide a cure for leprosy.
The six neglected tropical diseases are leprosy also known as Hansen's disease, lymphatic filariasis (LF),
Onchocerciasis (river blindness), soil transmitted helminths (STH), trachoma and also schistosomiasis.
Leprosy is a chronic bacterial disease that attacks skin and nerves of the infected individual. Without
treatment leprosy leads to deformities of the face and limbs as well as nerve damage and other complications.
Antibiotic treatments can provide a cure for leprosy. There are two organizations that have a goal of ending this
disease from the world. These two organizations are American Leprosy Missions and International Federation of
Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP). These two organizations provide medical care for those who suffer from leprosy
around the world.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a mosquito-borne parasitic disease. The disease causes damage to the lymphatic
system. The result of the disease is incapacitation and disfigurement of limbs, breasts, skin and limbs.
Individuals with lymphatic filariasis cannot live a normal social or working life because of the disfigurement.
Anti-parasitic drugs can break the cycle of infestation. Political awareness, financial and technical support have
been mobilized by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic filariasis.
Onchocerciasis is also known as river blindness. This is another parasitic disease that is transmitted to
individuals by black flies. When individuals bathe, fish or collect water from the rivers where flies breed they
can become infected with onchocerciasis. Once infected individuals suffer intense itching, and skin diseases called
leopard or lizard skin. They can also develop eye lesions, which result in blindness. A medication: MectizanTM
reduces the parasitic transmission and can reduce the symptoms and clinical manifestations of onchocerciasis. The
medication relieves the itching and can even clear the eyes, except in advanced cases. 19 countries have banned
together to form The African Program for Onchocerciasis Control to help fight the disease and to activate
community-directed treatment programs. Another program, The Onchocerciasis Elimination Program for the Americas has
a goal to eliminate the morbidity and transmission of onchocerciasis in six endemic (restricted to a locality or
region) countries in the Americas.
Soil transmitted helminths (STH), are parasitic disease caused by roundworm, whipworm and hookworm. Contact is
made with the worms by coming in contact with contaminated feces or unclean water. The disease causes anemia,
vitamin A deficiency, stunted growth, malnutrition and also intestinal obstruction. In some countries as much as
90% of the children suffer from STH. STHs can cause severe health risks including impaired physical and cognitive
development in kids. Anti-parasitic drugs can help cure and rid these areas of the disease. Tools, training and
technical information is provided to individuals by Partners for Parasite Control (PPC).
Schistosomiasis is also known as Bilharzia. This disease is contracted by blood transmission by way of
freshwater snails. The symptoms of the disease are: blood in the urine, anemia, impaired growth, and
life-threatening bladder cancer. Kidney malfunction, liver and spleen complications are also common complications
of the disease. The drug praziquantel can treat those infected with this disease. The disease can also be
controlled by providing adequate disposal methods for feces and urine. The organization, Schistosomiasis Control
Initiative (SCI) is helping those who are at high risk in Sub- Saharan Africa.