[Excerpt] The Asia Pacific region is the area of highest economic growth in the world. Yet some countries and populations are being left behind and still suffer from a high burden of communicable diseases. Many of these diseases, known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), have simple and low-cost solutions to reduce their burden.
NTDs are comprised of 17 medically diverse diseases that threaten over 1 billion people in the Asia Pacific region, most of whom live on less than US$ 1.25 a day. NTDs stigmatize and disable, preventing individuals from being able to care for themselves or their families. They impair physical and cognitive development, cause adverse pregnancy outcomes and limit adult productivity in the workforce. As a result, they cause billions of dollars in lost wages, all but ensuring those infected and their family members remain trapped in a cycle of poverty and disease.
The Asia Pacific NTD Initiative seeks to reduce needless suffering and disability by scaling up access to treatment for these diseases. Reducing the burden of NTDs is an integral part of improving maternal and child health. With a little external investment, this cycle of disease, which continues to keep so many people in poverty, can be broken.