CEGA Faculty Director Ted Miguel and Michael Kramer respond to the British government’s recent announcement of a 90% cut in funding to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by highlighting the long-term and devastating impacts of NCDs on individuals living in extreme poverty worldwide, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic:
“Neglected tropical diseases – such as elephantiasis, trachoma, river blindness, and intestinal worm infections – are virtually nonexistent in advanced economies. But among people living in extreme poverty, they are the most common infections. About a billion people worldwide – including more than 750 million people living below the World Bank poverty line of $1.90 per day – suffer from NTDs every year.
Their suffering can be extreme. NTDs cause severe pain and long-term disability, often leading to social stigmatization. Among children, infection interrupts education and causes malnutrition, impairing intellectual and cognitive development and stunting growth. And by interfering with education and employment, NTDs keep people trapped in poverty.
And yet, while nearly 17 million healthy years of life are lost annually to NTDs, these diseases are largely preventable, and many can be treated with a few simple pills. Ensuring broad access to these medications would not only bring obvious health and humanitarian benefits, but also pay remarkably high and sustained social and economic dividends.”
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