Neglected Tropical Diseases

1.7 billion people worldwide are currently at risk of incapacity, blindness, disfigurement, disability or death from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The poorest part of the population, especially women and children, are most affected. Children can only go to school irregularly, women and men cannot work and are stigmatised by their environment. In many cases, it would be possible to treat the sick people successfully.


German network against Neglected Tropical Diseases

But often, in some areas, the medicines, some of which are provided free of charge by the pharmaceutical manufacturers, do not reach the people who need them at all, or only at great expense. The so-called very last mile, i.e. the ultimately few steps in the country, to the village that is not connected to any road, that lies outside the supply radius of the health systems, cannot be overcome.

Research and development in the field of neglected tropical diseases must continue. Innovations - new concepts and treatment methods, diagnostics and the development of new vaccines and drugs are essential to help the affected people.


Only by working together with the national governments of the countries where NTDs are endemic, with their political will and with the support of donors - philanthropic organisations, the wealthy industrialised countries, multilateral organisations such as the WHO and World Bank, pharmaceutical companies that donate the drugs and conduct research, non-governmental organisations that implement NTD programmes - can NTDs be successfully combated or, ideally, even their outbreak prevented.

NTDs and Europe
Recently, isolated outbreaks of NTDs have also been reported in Europe, outside their actual areas of origin: Leishmaniasis occurs particularly in the tropics, Peru and Colombia, and eastern Africa. It is transmitted by the sand fly. Probably due to climate change, sand flies have also been found in Germany and cases of leishmaniasis acquired here have been reported.

In southern France, Croatia, Greece and Madeira, people had contracted dengue fever locally. Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes of the species Aedes (the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti and the Asian tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus) in more than 100 countries in the tropics and sub-tropics and is considered the most common mosquito-borne viral disease. Usually, tourists become infected with dengue fever during a stay in Thailand or Indonesia.

Infections with schistosomiasis have also been reported. Travellers had bathed in the river Cavo near Porto Vecchio in South Corsica and contracted the parasites in the water there.

Climate change
Climate change favours the spread of neglected tropical diseases. Extreme weather conditions, heavy rain, floods can trigger epidemics. Mosquito larvae develop faster when it is warm. Researchers from the USA and South Africa have determined how the spread of two mosquito species is affected by changing climates. The mosquito species in question are those that transmit dengue fever, Zika and chikugunya fever. Global warming over the next 30 years could put half a billion more people at risk of tropical diseases due to the changing spread of mosquito species.


Research into new antibiotic against river blindness and lymphatic filariasis pathogens

Bonn, 28.05.2024 - A team led by Prof. Dr. Achim Hoerauf, Director of the Institute of Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the Center for Infectiology and Infection Protection of the Medical Faculty of the University of Bonn, is developing an antibiotic against river blindness and lymphatic filariasis in collaboration with the Department of Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmacy at the University of Bonn and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI). The project is now being funded with around 5.6 million euros from the Japanese Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund.

Neglected tropical diseases and the 77th World Health Assembly 2024

Geneva, 28.05.2025 - At the 77th World Health Assembly, Thoko Elpick-Pooley, Executive Director, Uniting to combat NTDs at the Devex event From the margins to mainstream: Ending the neglect of NTDs, described the successes to tackle NTD elimination in Togo and Mali. For her, political leadership, committed partners, the search for innovative ways of financing and community health workers are the key to success. Other panelists were Dr. Monique Wasunna, Africa Ambassador of DNDi and Adam Weiss, Director of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program, Carter Center.

Insights into field research in Gabon, Ghana, Madagascar and Malawi

World NTD Day at the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine

Hamburg, 30.1.2024 -The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) hosted an information event in the historic lecture theatre. The programme included lectures on schistosomiasis research in Madagascar, snakebite envoming with insights into research work in Gabon and Malawi and a lecture on Buruli ulcer research in Ghana, a disease that poses a great mystery to researchers, as it is not clear how people become infected.

Subcommittee on Global Health of the German Bundestag interrogates the Federal Government on neglected tropical diseases

Berlin, 29.01.2024 - In the run-up to the World Day against Neglected Tropical Diseases, MPs from the Subcommittee on Global Health questioned the German Federal Government on its activities to combat NTDs.

Dr Georg Kippels MP/CDU asked whether a bundling of the numerous activities on NTDs was being considered in times of budget cuts. Tina Rudolph MdB/SPD wanted to know more about local vaccine production in relation to NTD vaccines. Kordula Schulz -Asche MdB/Bündnis 90-die Grünen enquired about the monitoring of vectors that can also transmit neglected tropical diseases and have colonised Europe. In this context, she also asked what the German government could learn from the countries of the South in this regard. Herbert Wollmann MP/SPD also referred to the spread of NTD-transmitting mosquitoes in Italy and Greece, among others, and enquired about the plans of the Federal Ministry of Health to deal with this development. The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Global Health, Prof. Dr Andrew Ullmann MP/FDP, referred to a study on the state of research into NTDs in Germany and enquired about the progress made so far in integrating them by the Federal Government. Representatives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Ministry of Health responded to the MPs' questions.

WHO officially recognises noma as a neglected tropical disease

Geneva, 15.12.2023 - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced the inclusion of noma in the official list of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This was recommended at the 17th meeting of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on Neglected Tropical Diseases (STAG-NTD). Noma is a serious disease of the mouth and face that mainly affects malnourished infants between the ages of 2 and 6 in regions of extreme poverty. It begins with an inflammation of the gums which, if not treated early, spreads rapidly and destroys facial tissue and bone. It often leads to death, leaving the survivors severely disfigured. An accurate estimate of the number of noma cases is difficult due to the rapid progression of the disease and the associated stigmatisation that contributes to many cases going undiagnosed. Noma cases occur mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, although cases have also been reported in the Americas and Asia. There is evidence that noma is caused by bacteria in the mouth. Noma is not contagious, but usually occurs when the body's defences are weakened.

The Nigerian government played a leading role in the inclusion of noma in the list of NTDs. In January 2023, an official application was submitted to the WHO on behalf of 32 member states.

The formal process for adding new diseases to the NTD list was introduced by the STAG-NTD in 2016. Since then, the following diseases have been added: Mycetoma (2016), Scabies (2017), Snakebite Encephalitis (2017) and Noma (2023). With Noma, the WHO NTD list currently includes 21 diseases or groups of diseases.

African Research Networks of the Federal Ministry of Education in Research presented at the Science Summit of the 78th United Nations General Assembly

New York/Berlin, 12.09.2023 - The Research Networks for Health Innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa (RHISSA) were presented at the Science Summit of the 78th General Assembly. RHISSA has been a major funding initiative of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2016.

The director of the TAkeOff programme (Tackling the Obstacles to Fight Filarial infections and podoconiosis), Prof. Dr Alexander Yaw Debrah, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, and Prof. Dr Achim Hörauf, co-director of the programme, UKB Bonn, Germany presented beside others the network. The consortium of researchers from Ghana, Tanzania, Cameroon and Germany aim to improve the morbidity management of lymphatic filariasis (LF) and podoconiosis.

Dengue fever vaccine approved in the EU

Osaka/Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dec. 08, 2022 - Pharmaceutical company Takeda announced that the European Commission has approved its vaccine for the prevention of dengue in people four years of age and older in the European Union.

G7 Development and Health Ministers’ Meeting

Berlin, 19.5.2022 - In the G7 Development Ministers' Meeting Communiqué the G7 Ministers reaffirm their support for health systems strengthening in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in line with the WHO Roadmap and the new Kigali Declaration. The focus is on the development and distribution of new tools for equitable and sustainable access to safe, effective and quality-assured vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics against neglected tropical diseases and on WASH interventions, as well as on promoting the further integration of NTD health services as part of a comprehensive approach to primary health care.

Also, in the Joint Statement of the G7 Health and Development Ministers, the G7 Ministers stressed that numerous current crises should not divert attention from other issues such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, polio, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), sexual and reproductive health and rights, and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Germany joins the Kigali Declaration on neglected tropical diseases

Berlin, 29.01.2022 - Germany has joined the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases. Svenja Schulze, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development: "By joining the Kigali Declaration, the German Government is committed to actively supporting the affected countries and regions together with our partners in the fight against the so-called neglected tropical diseases. This is a fight that we can win and that benefits us all."


UNITE Global Summit 2021

Berlin, 07.11.2021 German parliamentarians are involved in international networks: Prof. Dr. Ullmann, MP discussed antibiotic resistance at the digital UNITE Global Summit. Dr Georg Kippels, Member of the German Bundestag, co-chaired a parliamentary group of uniting to combat NTDs. Jeremy Lefroy introduced the group at the Global Summit.