The extent to which neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) contribute to the chronic non-communicable disease (CNCDs) burden in developing countries must be calculated if CNCDs are to be effectively controlled, say Peter Hotez and Abdallah Daar.
Deaths worldwide from CNCDs now exceed those from infectious diseases, with 80 per cent occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
NTDs closely resemble CNCDs in that they typically result in long-term disability. They can also cause or increase the risk of many chronic diseases, say the authors. Chagas disease for example, is the principal source of cardiovascular disease in Latin America, and urinary schistosomiasis is a leading cause of bladder cancer in Africa and the Middle East.
But the origins of many chronic diseases are often neglected and unstudied in developing countries, say the authors.
Given the prevalence of NTDs in low- and middle-income countries it is imperative that their role in the CNCD problem be assessed, argue Hotez and Daar. Such evidence is essential to guide new policies, they add.