Intended for healthcare professionals


Neglected tropical diseases

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 09 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:269

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Gavin Yamey, consulting editor1,
  2. Peter Hotez, Walter G Ross professor and chair2
  1. 1PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Public Library of Science, San Francisco, CA 94107, USA
  2. 2Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Tropical Medicine, George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20037, USA
  1. gyamey{at}

    These diseases could be controlled or eliminated in our lifetimes if efforts are better coordinated

    In 2002 one of us wrote an editorial in the BMJ entitled “The world's most neglected diseases,” referring to 13 ancient tropical infections of the poor (box).1 These diseases are disabling, disfiguring, and stigmatising; they impair children's physical and cognitive growth; they promote poverty; and many of the drugs used to treat them are toxic, difficult to administer, and are more than 50 years old.2 Five years ago, there was little good news to report. But recently there has been a silent revolution in the attention being paid to these diseases.2 3 We see several reasons for optimism.

    Main neglected tropical diseases

    Protozoan infections
    • Human African trypanosomiasis

    • Visceral leishmaniasis

    • Chagas disease

    Helminth infections
    • Soil transmitted helminths: hookworm, ascariasis, trichuriasus

    • Schistosomiasis

    • Lymphatic filariasis

    • Onchocerciasis

    • Dracunculiasis

    Bacterial infections
    • Trachoma

    • Leprosy

    • Buruli ulcer

    Firstly, the long held belief that it is not economically feasible to develop drugs, diagnostic methods, and vaccines specifically for the neglected tropical diseases has now been shattered.4 Although these conditions exclusively affect the world's poorest people, …

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