NTDs, or Neglected Tropical Diseases, are as horrific as you’d imagine. They are a group of infectious diseases that affect over 1.4 billion people — including 500 million children — mainly in poor and rural populations in developing countries. These diseases, which are caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and even incredibly long worms that poke through skin (and take weeks to extract), cause immense pain and psychological discomfort. But as Kurzgesagt shows in the above video, the horror story that is NTDs may soon be coming to a happy ending.
As the Kurzgesagt narrator notes in the video, it seems like it’s become increasingly rare to hear about signs of hope in the media. But they are there! Good things are still happening. And when it comes to NTDs, big pharmaceutical companies have stepped up to plate and pledged to “give away 14 billion doses of medicines by the end of this decade” to developing countries.Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in 2012 that “These ancient diseases [NTDs] are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed,” and according to this recent Kurz video, there seems to be solid follow through on behalf of big pharma.
It should be noted that while it would be great to believe that the pharmaceutical companies did indeed take this action “with no other motivation than to help each other” as the Kurzgesagt video says, Reuters did report that the pledge to do away with NTDs comes in part because “The AIDS pandemic forced drugmakers in the past decade to pay more attention to the developing world, and a new focus on the economic potential of emerging markets has provided an incentive to promote their brands in poorer countries.”
What do you think about NTDs and big pharma’s pledge to wipe them out? Are you frustrated that there may be a profit motive behind this action, or does the end justify the means? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!