The issue explained
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) also known as Neglected Infectious Diseases (NIDs) are a group of diseases exacerbated by extreme poverty, dieseases that are both highly treatable and preventable, yet largely overlooked by the public health sector. Many of them are related to WASH: contaminated soil and poor water resource management and bad hygiene practices allow these diseases to spread.
WaterAid works closely with partners focused on some of these diseases to improve policies to prevent the diseases in the first place, and raise awareness of the importance of broadening focus from treatment alone. In some countries where particular NTDs are endemic, we also work closely with partners to implement joint services, to ensure communities are not only treated for the infections but will be at reduced risk of getting it again.
How this works in practice
For example, in Malawi, we work in partnership with the Government and non-governmental partners to promote hygiene and sanitation to eliminate blinding trachoma, which spreads in places with exposed human feces arising from poor sanitation and waste management.
Read more in our report Blinding Trachoma
In addition to trachoma, we emphasize control of soil-transmitted helminths, or intestinal worms, which affect billions of the poorest and most marginalized people worldwide, and are spread through contact with animal or human waste, such as in soil.
As a member of the global Soil-Transmitted Helminths Partnership, we help organizations focused on treating children for intestinal worms to increase their understanding of WASH, and undertake joint advocacy with health ministries to bring preventative WASH programs to communities at risk of intestinal worms. Other diseases are acquired from water that has been contaminated due to lack of access to sanitation and sources of clean water. Schistosomiasis affects 240 million people worldwide and causes chronic illness and around 200,000 deaths per year. Dracunculiasis, or guinea worm, also acquired through contaminated water, is approaching global eradication, yet four countries are still endemic. To fully eradicate guinea worm and many other NTDs, WASH, and especially improved sanitation and hygiene for the most vulnerable people, must be prioritized.