To live is to suffer- the reality of NTDs

Over 1 billion people in the world suffer from one or more NTDs, but NTDs don’t receive the same amount of funding other diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis receive. Funding for NTDs have increased over the years and has gained more attention in the public eye.

From the NTD Initiative Website
Launch Year (2008) 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total
Funding plan
($ millions) 15 25 70 75 85 95 350
Number of 12 13 18 20 25 30 30
countries covered

Significant funding has been afforded to NTDs under President Obama’s expansion of USAID. Funding is set to almost triple from 2009 to 2010 from 25 million to 70 million. That is a massive increase compared to the past but still significantly less compared to the millions funded to HIV, which afflicts less people but kills significantly more. But while NTDs kill less, to live with an NTD is to suffer for a lifetime if left untreated.

Onchocerciasis(river blindness) leaves millions blind for a lifetime and unable to work. Yet its treatable. We go to the optometrist to get new glasses or contacts to correct our vision that cost more than the treatment for blindness. Just think about how much we rely on our sight for every day tasks, from cooking, working, and to learning, and have all of that taken away. It would be terrible and if we had the opportunity to cure it we would. Then there is sleeping sickness caused by the tsetse fly that completely disables us through neurological, brain, and organ damage. It was almost eradicated but has gone through a resurgence with a recent breakout in 2008 in Uganda. To make things worse, there is resistance against the only treatment available because there has been a lack of interest and research into sleeping sickness. The list goes on and on from schistosomiasis to Chagas disease. Some of these diseases can be prevented and treated cost-effectively to reduce the burden on the poor.

In developing countries where economic development goes hand in hand with health improvement, leaving the burden NTDs to persist will be detrimental to economic growth. Nations are built on the poor; the poor provide the workers for economic growth in all industries. By allowing the poor to become afflicted and incapable of working only serves to exacerbate poverty and deter the growth of nations which is exactly why more effort should be put into NTDs. The poor are stuck in a whirlpool of poverty. Saving them from NTDs will give them a chance to escape.


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