It’s not easy to introduce neglected tropical diseases, or NTDs, to first time audiences. The truth is they may be the most important diseases of girls and women you have never heard of. Few people in the U.S. know about female genital schistosomiasis, hookworm, Chagas disease, trachoma, river blindness or elephantiasis. But taken together, these diseases have a higher health burden than malaria and tuberculosis, and rival that of HIV/AIDS.
Almost every woman or girl living on less than $1.25 (USD) a day in Africa, Asia and the Americas — one half of the world’s “bottom billion” — is infected by one or more NTD. But the most shocking aspect of NTDs isn’t the devastation they can cause to poor communities; it’s the affordability of its solution. It often only costs 50 cents, on average, to treat and protect one person against all seven major NTDs for an entire year. By controlling and eliminating these infections, we can offer one of the best shots for changing the future for those women and girls who live in such abject poverty.