Diagnostic Technologies

Diagnostics for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

NTDs affect the world’s most neglected people. Photo: PATH / Eric Becker

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Neglected diseases of neglected people

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of infections that affect the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. More than a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Central and South America are at risk of infection with one or more of these diseases. NTDs have devastating effects on human health and economic development, and contribute to a cycle of poverty. In the past, NTDs have not received the level of resources dedicated to diseases like HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis—they have been neglected, much like the people they infect.

Now, these diseases are beginning to receive the attention they need. Aid organizations and donors are committing more resources than ever before to NTDs. PATH and many global health and development organizations have pledged to support the World Health Organization’s goals for controlling or eliminating 10 NTDs through the London Declaration.

But there is more to be done.

Diagnostics are key

Diagnostic tests are essential to guide and direct NTD control and elimination efforts. These tests, used to measure levels of infection and gauge the impact of interventions, provide the data programs need to make decisions and plan their work.

However, current diagnostic tests for many of the NTDs are not sufficient for the evolving needs of control and elimination programs. New diagnostic tests are a critical gap in our ability to defeat NTDs, and one that PATH is addressing.

We know what is needed. As NTD programs are scaled up, levels of infection will begin to fall, so highly sensitive diagnostics are needed to detect low levels of infection that may still be present. New diagnostics must also be low-cost and relatively easy to use in the field to make them accessible in the resource-limited places where NTDs are found. Tests should also provide rapid results and be acceptable for use with patients, especially young children.

Filling the gaps for NTD diagnostics

PATH works to accelerate the development and implementation of innovative, high-impact diagnostics for NTDs. We are collaborating with partners to identify, develop, test, and commercialize new tests to drive efforts to reach global targets for defeating NTDs.



Diagnostic gaps and recommendations series

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Contact information

Tala de los Santos
Global Program Leader, Diagnostics

This work was supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development.