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Counting the cost of neglected diseases

Buruli ulcer open skin sore.

They break out in remote places, causing billions in economic losses and deforming unknown numbers of the one billion people estimated to be affected, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) report. They are known as “neglected tropical diseases”.

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Culprits that help spread the diseases include mosquitoes, snakes, muddied rivers, snails and crustaceans, but the most common vector is poverty, according to the WHO: dirty water, crowded slums and lack of medication hasten disease and death.

Here are highlights from the report on these overlooked, under-researched and under-funded diseases:

Neglected tropical diseases
1 billionPeople affected by neglected tropical diseases
17Diseases classified as neglected
55,000Annual number of deaths from rabies
25 million hectaresReclaimed land that had previously been abandoned due to damage from tsetse flies, which attack cattle and human nervous systems
670,000Years of productive life lost or premature death caused by dengue, a flu-like fatal viral disease spread by mosquitoes
40%Potential rise in personal income in Kenya through de-worming to prevent chronic intestinal blood loss and anaemia caused by hookworms
US$70,000Cost of de-worming campaign for one million schoolchildren
$2.9 billion Economic losses from trachoma, a bacterial infection that causes blindness
$1.3 billionAnnual productivity loss from lymphatic Filariasis, or elephantiasis, which can swell the lower limbs and genitals
5-10 US centsCost of treating a patient for elephantiasis
Source: "Working to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases", WHO, 2010


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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