Central Asia’s Hidden Burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases

It is not commonly appreciated that the NTDs are widespread throughout Central Asia where they are also a major determinant of poverty [8]. The five mostly landlocked Central Asian countries—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan (Figure 1)—were established upon the breakup of the former Soviet Union in 1991. They are also linked in history as a vital crossroads (“the Silk Road”) between Asia and Europe and by a common geography comprised of a desert and piedmont region [9]. The five nations have a combined population of 60 million people, with three of them—Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, and Uzbekistan—exhibiting a Human Development Index (HDI) that is ranked below 100, which is more or less equivalent to nations such as Guatemala, India, Indonesia, and South Africa.

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