A new paper by Peter Hotez and his colleague summarizes what is known about the prevalence and distribution of the disease burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Africa. They confirm what we have always known – that these diseases are highly prevalent and are a major contributor to the burden of disease in Africa – even though they do not kill as many people as other, more high profile, diseases.

The table above, taken from the Hotez paper, suggest that upwards of a third of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa may be infected by some of these diseases. Hookworm, for example, may infect up to 30% of the continent. Scary stuff.

Even scarier, in my mind at least, is that a lot can be done to tackle this burden. Many of these diseases can be treated with simple mass drug administration programs, which are cost-effective and relatively easy to implement. Obviously we have a ways to go.

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