Child giving a blood sample to test for schistosomiasis in Kenya FIND/George Muiruri 2021

Neglected Tropical Diseases

We are working to accelerate elimination of NTDs through tailored testing strategies.

1 billion

people worldwide require treatment for NTDs

Less than 5%

of NTD R&D funding has been invested in diagnostics

42 countries or areas

have eliminated at least one NTD

NTDs are a diverse group of 20 diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical climates.

These diseases disproportionately affect the poorest and the most marginalized communities, primarily women and children. Data from a landmark study in 2013 showed that NTDs were responsible for the loss of 17 million healthy years globally that year, with a high proportion being lost in sub-Saharan Africa.

Significant achievements in the control and elimination of NTDs have been made over the last decade. Today, 600 million fewer people need treatment for NTDs compared with 2010, and 42 countries or areas have eliminated at least one NTD. Nonetheless, over 1 billion people worldwide still require treatment.

The WHO 2021–2030 NTD roadmap identifies diagnostics as central to accelerating progress towards control and elimination goals. However, less than 5% of the limited research and development funding made available to NTDs has been invested in diagnostics. The focus on NTDs was further diminished during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many NTD surveys, active case-detection activities and mass drug administration campaigns being postponed. As a result, there is an urgent need for redoubled efforts to make up lost ground as countries recover from the pandemic, and get the NTD targets back on track.

Diagnostic testing is key to ensuring we find every last case of diseases targeted for elimination, and to enabling effective implementation of strategies such as mass drug administration in communities at risk.

Marta Fernández Suárez

Chief Technology Officer & Acting Director, NTD Programme

Our NTD strategy focuses on improving diagnosis and surveillance for NTDs with particularly significant diagnostic unmet needs: Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), visceral leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis and schistosomiasis.

Working with partners we will deliver:

  • Transparent diagnostic pipeline aligned with the needs identified in the WHO NTD 2021–2030 roadmap
  • Advocacy support to address critical product and funding gaps
  • 1 novel rapid diagnostic test for an NTD
  • Support for local production of 1 rapid diagnostic test for an NTD
  • Evaluations of new diagnostic tests for visceral leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis
  • Specimen banks to support the development of new diagnostics for NTDs
  • Strengthened country capacity for sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis) testing in 6 endemic countries and visceral leishmaniasis testing in 1 endemic country

NTD test directory

We are actively collating a test directory to bring transparency to the NTD diagnostic landscape.