Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are, according to the World Health Organization, a "diverse group of 20 conditions" that are most common in tropical regions, and that often result in disability, cognitive damage, disfigurement, and even death.

Even though they affect more than 1 billion people worldwide, they're considered neglected for a few reasons, including a lack of awareness about them, as well as a lack of concerted global action to tackle them. NTDs thrive in areas where access to sanitation, nutrition, and health care is lacking, and they mainly affect people living in poverty. As well as impacting people's health, they also deprive people of access to education and employment opportunities.

In Nigeria, which accounts for about 25% of the burden of NTDs in Africa, people living with NTDs often face stigma and discrimination, largely due to a lack of awareness about what NTDs and their symptoms are, and how they can be treated. But there is plenty of hope, because NTDs can be very effectively controlled, eliminated, or eradicated, through combined public health measures, effective treatment, and greater community awareness.

Many countries are seeing rapid reductions in the rate of at least one NTD, while others have successfully eradicated and eliminated them. According to the collective Uniting to Combat NTDs, 35 countries have eliminated at least one NTD since 2012 — like The Gambia, which eliminated the potentially blinding condition trachoma in April 2021, and Côte d'Ivoire, which eliminated human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, in March 2021.

4 Key Facts About NTDs Globally and in Nigeria

How Are NTDs Affecting People in Nigeria?

NTDs have a serious impact on individuals, families, communities, and economies. For individuals, they can cause serious short- and long-term harm to the health and well-being of those affected. Nigerians living with NTDs also often face stigma, isolating them from their communities and impacting their chances to access education, employment, community services, and more. This traps individuals in a cycle of poverty.

Read the full article about neglected tropical diseases by Gideon Fakomogbon at Global Citizen.