Addressing Diseases of Poverty | Asian Development Bank

Addressing Diseases of Poverty

Publication | March 2014
Addressing Diseases of Poverty

This publication outlines how the Asia-Pacific region can achieve the goals of control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases and contribute to poverty reduction and development among its most vulnerable populations.

Caused by several different organisms, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are present in at least 39 countries and areas in the Asia Pacific, and more than 1 billion people are at risk of infection with at least one of them. Some NTDs, such as soil-transmitted helminthiases (intestinal worms) and foodborne trematodiases (liver and lung flukes), can be controlled easily at low cost, while others, such as leprosy, lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), schistosomiasis (snail fever), trachoma and yaws can even be eliminated.

Left untreated, NTD infections can cause blindness, cognitive impairments, limitations in psychomotor development and disfigurement. Families suffer as those affected members lose their ability to work and take part in social life. Entire communities bear the economic burden from increased health-care costs and reduced productivity.

However, proven strategies exist to prevent and treat NTDs. Five of these diseases can be treated properly for less than $0.25 per person through mass distribution of donated medicines to communities at risk; others require diagnosis and treatment delivered through primary health-care services.

Asia Pacific neglected tropical diseases initiative

The Asia Pacific NTD Initiative was created to support countries in decreasing the burden of NTDs and thereby to reduce suffering and increase productivity.

With the support of WHO and donors, the Asia Pacific NTD Initiative signifies a call to action for reducing the disproportionate burden of NTDs in the Asia and Pacific region and therefore contributing to poverty reduction in the region. The five-year Asia Pacific NTD Initiative for the control and elimination of NTDs, which highlights successes, priorities and needs, has been costed at $243 million.

Significant government ownership through budgetary and policy commitments and donor contributions account for nearly 50% of the total budget. The support of pharmaceutical companies and other partners, which donate a substantial proportion of the drugs for these efforts, is key to achieving success. These contributions are appreciated as a shining example of public-private partnerships for development. Yet a gap remains in achieving full access, highlighting yet again the regional health inequities.

About this publication

This publication describes the burden, outlines defined actionable objectives and signifies a call to action to help close the gap of $121 million needed to fight these diseases. This publication outlines how, with renewed commitment and investment, the Asia Pacific region can achieve the goals of neglected tropical diseases control and elimination and contribute to poverty reduction and development among its most vulnerable populations.


  • Executive Summary
  • Background
  • Asia Pacific NTD Initiative
  • Why Invest in a Regional NTD Initiative?
  • References
  • Appendixes