The World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day (NTDs) is being held for the second time on 30 January 2021. It will be a digital event again this year. Prof. Dr Christoph G. Grevelding, Professor for Parasitology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen and the Deputy Spokesperson of the DRUID LOEWE Centre, explains why this international day is extremely important for Europe too.
“SARS-CoV-2 is not the only thing posing a threat to people around the world. We’ve been familiar with countless other pathogens, which occur almost anywhere in the world and trigger various diseases with serious and often fatal consequences, from the world of viruses, bacteria and parasites for many years. Unfortunately, these infectious diseases receive little attention in the broad public arena and the pharmaceutical industry is devoting far too little time, energy and resources to them. As a result, few people know that, according to estimates from the WHO, about 1.5 billion people are suffering from neglected infectious diseases, they are spreading – to Europe too – and there are still not yet any vaccinations against many of these diseases. There is also only a very limited range of potent medicines available – and only one in many cases. This promotes the emergence of resistant pathogens, which can then no longer be treated.
A large number of neglected infectious diseases occur in the tropics and subtropics, which is why they are called “neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)”. NTDs also promote cycles of poverty, because those affected experience major restrictions in their ability to work and this in turn triggers economic and social consequences. This topic will attract greater public attention through the World NTD Day. This is urgently required to press ahead with fighting and controlling these neglected diseases.”
25 research groups from universities in the state of Hesse and the Paul-Ehrlich Institute in Langen have joined forces in the DRUID LOEWE Centre to develop joint strategies against NTDs. The State of Hesse is supporting this valuable work through its LOEWE research funding programme and is therefore making a valuable contribution to global health, alongside the institutions involved.