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.


African sleeping sickness - Else Kröner-Fresenius Prize awarded

Frankfurt / Democratic Republic of the Congo - 03.12.2020. This year's Else Kröner Fresenius Prize for Medical Development Cooperation goes to Dr. Florent Mbo with the project “Sleeping Sickness in Africa: Fexinidazole is now here! Project to promote easy access to the new oral drug against sleeping sickness”. The EKFS is honoring a project in the field of combating neglected tropical diseases, which makes a significant contribution to the sustainable elimination of sleeping sickness in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

World Health Assembly delegates approve WHO's new roadmap to tackle neglected tropical diseases for 2021-2030

Berlin/Geneva -12.11.2020. At the 73rd virtual session of the World Health Assembly, the delegates adopted the new roadmap to combat neglected tropical diseases for 2021-2030 by an overwhelming majority. Dagmar Reitenbach, delegate for Germany from the Federal Ministry of Health underlined in her statement the new possibilities in the coming decade to strengthen public health care through the new roadmap to combat NTDs.

Laboratory tests: drug against elephantiasis and river blindness stops coronavirus growth

Decatur, Georgia, April 7, 2020 - Mectizan Expert Committee stated: Australian researchers presented that the drug ivermectin shows activities against SARS-Cov-2. This is consistent to previous findings that ivermectin is also active against other viruses (such as HIV, dengue, influenza and Zika).  Although the concentration of ivermectin needed to produce anti-viral effects in laboratory tissue culture is far beyond dosage levels approved. High dosis in animals have effected serious toxicity. These findings indicate that ivermectin will not be of clinical benefit to reduce viral loads in COVID-19 patients.


The Global Vector Hub presented on youtube

Berlin, April 4, 2020 - The Global Vector Hub is an open access, interactive resource presented on you tube. It has the capacity to transform vector research and vector control programmes, and to revolutionise the preparedness and ability to respond quickly and effectively to vector-borne disease outbreaks around the world.

More information on the youtube channel of the International Society for Neglected Tropical Diseases


COVID-19: WHO issues interim guidance for implementation of NTD programmes

Geneva, April 1, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted almost every country to implement unprecedented public health measures. WHO had issued an interim guidance for implementation of NTD programmes. A range of public health measures are being implemented that include hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and practicing physical distancing.

Uniting to Combat NTDs and COVID 19

London, March 23, 2020 - Uniting to Combat NTDs is concerned about the current Covid-19 pandemic and is monitoring the situation closely. They fully support the measures taken by the World Health Organization and partners to prevent and stop the spread of Covid-19. They indicate particularly the risk of the outbreak spreading to vulnerable, marginalized communities in the developing world. But have no doubt, that national Covid-19 responses will rely heavily on these established and trusted community systems, as was the case during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014-2016.

The German Federal Government answers to a small parliamentarian inquiry re the fight against neglected tropical diseases

Berlin, January 30, 2020 – The small parliamentarian inquiry was submitted by FDP (Liberal party) lead by MP Professor Dr. Andrew Ullmann. The opposition party wanted to know what the  German government already has done and will do. Questions were addressed to  the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG).

Bernhard-Nocht-Institute establishes department for implementation research

Berlin/Hamburg, January 13, 2020 - The Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM) is expanding its activities with a department dedicated to implementation research. At a ceremony, the invited guests emphasized the importance of the research branch, since it is not enough to just research and develop medicines and therapies. Rather, it is also about understanding how they are best brought to the sick and accepted by them. Therefore, implementation research should be organized in an interdisciplinary manner. In the future, social anthropologists, communication scientists, health economists will work together with colleagues from Africa at the BNITM. Prof. Dr. Jürgen May, head of implementation research and former spokesman for the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases, emphasized in the presence of Sabine Weiss, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Health, that one cannot rely on common sense alone. You have to be able to rely more on empirical results.

2020 – Else-Kröner-Fresenius medical development cooperation award for neglected tropical diseases

Berlin/Bad Homburg, January 2, 2020. The Else-Kröner-Fresenius Prize for Medical Development Cooperation 2020 is open to neglected tropical diseases. The award recognizes outstanding projects and employees of organizations that are committed to improving medical care in developing countries. The award is endowed with 100,000 Euros.  Application deadline: February 15, 2020

Dengue vaccine factory opened

Singen, November 5, 2019. The Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda has opened the first dengue vaccine factory in Germany. The company invested 130 million euros in the location Singen. Takeda is currently expecting approval by next year. The vaccine is still in approval-relevant phase 3 of the TIDES study (Tetravalent Immunization against Dengue Efficacy Study) and is being carried out in the dengue-endemic countries of Latin America and Asia. Dr. Dr. Carsten Köhler, member of the board of the DNTDs and director of the Competence Center Tropical Medicine Baden-Württemberg, Institute for Tropical Medicine of the University Clinic of the Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen, points out that dengue is no longer just a travel illness and illness of neglected people, but already occurs locally in Europe.