Health topics

Neglected tropical diseases


Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a medically diverse group of infections caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths.

NTDs in the Western Pacific Region: blinding trachoma, buruli ulcer, dengue, echinococcosis, foodborne trematodiases (lung and liver flukes), visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar), leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, rabies, scabies, schistosomiasis (snail fever), soil-transmitted helminthiases (intestinal worms), taeniasis/cysticercosis, yaws.

Approximately 100 million people in the Region are at risk of infection from at least one of the NTDs and are a public health issue in at least 28 countries and areas in the Region, resulting in significant negative impact on health and economies.

Our approach to tackling neglected tropical diseases builds on five public-health strategies:

  • preventive chemotherapy – the large-scale delivery of free and safe, single-dose, quality-assured medicines, either alone or in combination, at regular intervals to treat selected diseases;
  • innovative and intensified disease management – the management of diseases that are difficult to diagnose and treat and which can, in most cases, trigger severe clinical manifestations and complications;
  • vector control and pesticide management – the safe and judicious management of public-health pesticides to achieve vector control through integrated vector management;
  • safe drinking-water, basic sanitation and hygiene services, and education– the prioritization of improved sanitation combined with delivering preventive chemotherapy and health education to sustain reductions in prevalence of many of these diseases; and
  • zoonotic disease management – the application of veterinary sciences and interventions to protect and improve human health (also referred to as veterinary public-health).

Although one approach may predominate for the control of a specific disease or group of diseases, effective control results when several approaches are combined and delivered locally.