At ClimateMama it’s Do Something Wednesday and we wanted to help you understand more about NTDs which infect more then 1 BILLION people worldwide!Yet here in the US, if you are like many of us at ClimateMama, NTDS is an acronym most of us aren’t too familiar with. Neglected tropical diseases or NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial infections that infect one in six people worldwide, including more than half a billion KIDS! NTDs disable, debilitate and perpetuate poverty. In worst-case scenarios, they can kill.
The good news is that many of these diseases are easily cured with the proper vaccine at a cost of as little as 50 cents. Grab the kids in your life and check out END7, a wonderful program of The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding required to eliminate these diseases as a public health threat to the world’s poorest communities.
The seven most common NTDs are ascariasis (roundworm), trichuriasis (whipworm), hookworm, schistosomiasis (snail fever), lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), trachoma and onchocerciasis (river blindness). Roundworm, whipworm and hookworm are also known as soil-transmitted helminth infections (STHs). Watch this short video and learn more.
NTDs can be transmitted in a variety of ways including through mosquitoes, flies and other insects and contact with contaminated soil and water. As a result, people get NTDs just by doing everyday activities like playing outside, swimming, doing laundry and planting crops.
As many of our children in the developed world go back to school over the next few weeks, unaware and unaffected by NTDS, more then 1/2 a billion children in countries where NTDs are common, are unable to attend school or stay in school because of these diseases. Check out the END7 website for more information.
Also, when you have a discussion about NTDs with the kids in your life, remind them that as our climate changes due to the follies and direct actions of humankind, we know that certain diseases like west nile virus and dengue fever are spreading rapidly as a result of climate change. These two disease are examples of diseases typically found in “tropical climates” which are now being diagnosed in the United States and Europe as well as in areas in Africa and Asia where they haven’t been seen before. Many scientists think that climate change is contributing to the spread of these diseases. More research on NTDs and climate change is needed so we can have a clearer understand of the linkages between the spread of NTDs and climate change.
According to a recent article in IRIN by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: “Many researchers are concerned changes in rainfall patterns could result in a loss of “endemic stability” for diseases carried by mosquitoes, ticks and other disease hosts, and that environmental conditions could become favorable for disease transmission.
Rising average annual temperatures have already been blamed for increasing numbers of malarial mosquitoes at higher altitudes in Tanzania and Kenya. Increasing numbers of malaria cases have also been reported in the highlands of Madagascar, Rwanda and Ethiopia. While malaria is not considered an NTD, similar patterns of expansion are feared for other tropical diseases carried by mosquitoes and flies. Temperature, rainfall and runoff could also affect the growth and spread of microbial diseases. But many researchers believe there is simply not enough information available to warrant alarm.”
So, while the verdict remains out on climate change’s direct impact on NTDs, the fact remains that these diseases continue to be disabling and debilitating to more then a billion people worldwide. Please check out END7 with the kids in your life and see how you can help alleviate some of the worst impacts of these illnesses NOW.
I wrote this post as part of The Global Team of 200, a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Our Motto: Individually we are all-powerful. Together we can change the world. We believe in the power of collective action to help others and believe in ourselves to make this world a better place for our children and the world’s children.
Mosquito photo credit: curtis palmer via photopin cc