SDG target: End the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases.
Ordinarily, a single curve that tracks a group of 15 neglected tropical diseases is a useful shortcut. During COVID-19, however, that shortcut doesn’t work as well. Each disease is very different, with different treatment and prevention tools and programs, and the pandemic’s impact on each one differs, too.
Some NTDs are treated using annual “mass drug administration” campaigns (MDAs), which many countries are postponing for fear that health care workers could spread COVID-19. For some NTDs, this delay may not pose a serious problem, because catching up later is relatively easy. However, for more contagious NTDs (like trachoma, schistosomiasis, and visceral leishmaniasis), delayed MDAs are likely to cause surges in infection.
Progress on this subset of NTDs was too slow in some settings before the pandemic, and modeling suggests that biannual or quarterly campaigns (trachoma) or detecting cases to better target campaigns (visceral leishmaniasis) is necessary in any case.