Intended for healthcare professionals

Innovating for neglected diseases in South Asia

The sustainable development goals set a target to end epidemics of neglected tropical diseases by the year 2030. Neglected tropical diseases mainly comprise infectious diseases seen in subtropical and tropical regions. Over one billion people are affected worldwide, many of whom are living in poverty. South Asia has a unique role to play in combating these diseases, given the high disease burden and regional expertise in end-to-end solutions, from drug discovery and clinical studies through to regulation, manufacture and distribution.

This collection of articles highlights successes of public health programmes for these and other neglected diseases in South Asia and explores outstanding issues requiring supportive policy and research. Fostering continual innovation in diagnostics, treatment, and prevention is critical to meet the changing demands of disease elimination programmes.

Editorial introduction:

Innovation is vital for elimination of neglected diseases in South Asia
Despite some success in reducing the substantial mortality many challenges remain, say Suman Rijal and colleagues.

Series articles:

Elimination of lymphatic filariasis in South East Asia
Expanding treatment options alongside ensuring high coverage of mass drug administration can accelerate progress in elimination of lymphatic filarisis, say Sabine Specht and colleagues.

Eliminating visceral leishmaniasis in South Asia: the road ahead
Suman Rijal and colleagues highlight lessons from a regional collaboration to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis and identify priorities for the post-elimination plan.

The timing is right to end snakebite deaths in South Asia
Regional collaboration is crucial to end preventable deaths and disability from snakebites in South Asia, say Ravikar Ralph and colleagues.

Multidrug resistant enteric fever in South Asia: unmet medical needs and opportunities
Investments in newer diagnostics and antimicrobial treatments are critical to improve management of enteric fever in South Asia, say Christopher M Parry and colleagues.

Neonatal sepsis in South Asia: huge burden and spiralling antimicrobial resistance
Suman Chaurasia and colleagues call for urgent action to improve quality of care at birth and implement antimicrobial stewardship in health facilities in South Asia to reduce neonatal deaths from sepsis.

Can India lead the way in neglected diseases innovation?
Zakir Thomas and colleagues call for a comprehensive policy for neglected diseases research in India to foster innovation in drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines, critical for evolving needs of elimination programmes.

These articles are part of a series commissioned by The BMJ based on an idea proposed by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi). The BMJ retained full editorial control over external peer review, editing, and publication of these articles. Article handling fees (including printing, distribution, and open access fees) are funded by DNDi. The series adviser for this collection was Buddha Basnyat.