Neglected tropical diseases in the Philippines
The NTD endemic provinces are among the poorest of the poor in the Philippines. And yet because these tropical parasitic diseases do not cause instant death, they tend to be neglected by policy makers, by NGOs, by multilateral and bilateral organizations and by corporate foundations and philanthropists.
These parasitic diseases cause chronic disabilities and deformities that hamper the growth and development of children, as well as the working ability or productivity of adults. For Lymphatic Filariasis alone, the country’s annual economic loss due to decreased productivity and increased costs of care is estimated at US$4.4M a year.
An estimated 645 232 persons are already infected with lymphatic filariasis1. Agriculture and fishing—the common occupation of the majority of the people—are conditions that increase schistosomiasis transmission in the Philippines. Poverty, lack of education, inadequate sanitary and waste management facilities, lack of potable water, ignorance of healthy practices, and poor eating spreads the negative impact of schistosomiasis (STH) in the country.
Prevalence rates persist at high levels affecting children below 15 years old. A 2004 STH survey showed that only less than a third (30%) of households in study areas have piped-in water while the other 69.7% depend on deep wells, open dug wells, springs and rainwater. The same study also showed that three fourths (72%) of households have sanitary toilets and a significant percentage (28%) still use unsanitary toilets. The worst impact of these diseases is the way they exacerbate poverty, stigmatize, disable and inhibit individuals from being able to care for themselves or their families. Children, women and those living in remote areas without any access to an effective health care system are most vulnerable to the deleterious effects of neglected diseases such as malnutrition, anemia, serious or permanent disability (including blindness), illness and death.