Neglected Tropical Diseases


Situational analysis

Neglected tropical diseases (NTD) refer to 17 infectious diseases particularly prevalent in the tropics. The African Region bears about half of the global burden of NTDs. In addition, NTDsNTDs such as Guinea-worm disease, Buruli ulcer and Human African Trypanosomiasis affect only or mainly the African continent. All the 47 countries of the African Region are endemic to at least one NTD.

Neglected diseases tend to lose priority because they often do not kill. However, lack of action leads to serious developmental and economic consequences because of diminished school performance, retarded growth, absenteeism from school and work, as well as a loss of productivity.

Neglected tropical diseases typically affect children, peasants and the poor causing varying degrees of disability and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. In Mozambique, the most prevalence NTDs include schistosomiasis, trachoma, intestinal parasites, lymphatic filariasis, and onchocerciasis. The map illustrates the worldwide distribution of schistosomiasis in 2011.

Cheap and effective tools are available to control most neglected tropical diseases. Access to clean drinking water is one of the main methods of prevention.

In recent years, there has been a global focus on combating three major global killers; HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. However, fighting these is not mutually exclusive with controlling neglected diseases. Synergies with particularly HIV/AIDS initiatives need to be exploited to ensure better use of available health infrastructure and equipment.

In Mozambique, improved epidemiological surveillance to would help to better understand extend, scope and cost of neglected tropical diseases. Surveillance data are also needed to inform policy decisions as well as raising awareness among primary health care workers about tropical diseases. Clinical protocols need to be revisited and simple algorithms need to be designed for primary health care staff to improve diagnosis and treatment. It is important that neglected diseases are managed by the public health workers rather than specialized staff because of limited human resources for health. Training and retraining of health care providers is therefore important.


  • In August 2013, a medicine (diethylcarbamazine - DEC) to treat the neglected tropical disease, lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis) was pre-qualified. The prequalification means that the medicine can be used in large-scale treatment campaigns aiming at eliminating lymphatic filariasis. This is the first pre-qualification of a drug treating a neglected tropical disease. 
  • Development of the National Integrated Plans for Control of Neglected Diseases 2012-2016. The Plan aims at reducing the burden of neglected tropical diseases by focusing on prevention.
  • In May 2013, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution on all 17 neglected tropical diseases. This meant that ministers of health in Member States in the African Region committed to scaling up proven and effective interventions against the NTDs.
  • In Mozambique, mass drug administration is conducted every year in affected provinces and districts. This initiative reaches more than 500,000 people with medication every year;
  • More than 50% of health staff in affected provinces has been trained in neglected tropical disease case management. This means that they are in a better position to diagnose and treat patients presenting with neglected tropical diseases;
  • Leprosy is under control in Mozambique with an incidence of less than one case per 10,000 inhabitants.

Key Resources


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