Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of 20 fatal diseases that disproportionately impact 1 billion people in disadvantaged areas worldwide while receiving little attention or funding for research. There is renewed optimism for an NTD-free future with the publishing of the amended 2022 Kigali Declaration, which pledges to eradicate NTDs through increased investment in technology transfer, health data collection and utilization, and health management information systems.
According to a study published in Lancet Digital Health, mobile health solutions are being used to expedite diagnosis. The WHO SkinNTDs app, for example, employs an artificial intelligence system to help in the diagnosis of NTDs through changes in the skin. On the other hand, diagnostics have a long way to go until they are entirely developed worldwide in terms of quality, reliability, precision, and speed. More research is needed to determine whether or not the application of AI technology will be welcomed and thriving in situations with low resources.
Furthermore, the scarcity of prevalence data for many NTDs has made technological advancements in disease mapping and monitoring critical. The Lancet Digital Health recently released the first worldwide evaluation and research of the geographic range and ecological aspects driving the transmission of spotted fever group rickettsiae (SFGR). The researchers used machine learning to determine the relative relevance of several ecological, climatic, and biological aspects in defining Rickettsia spp. .
As the authors’ notion that the SFGR risk zones are broader than previously reported implies, further surveillance of SFG rickettsial infections is necessary. Despite significant progress, there still needs to be enhanced sampling procedures, data gathering, surveillance network design, and precise mapping.
In the fight against NTDs, efforts are being made to maximize digital transformation and accelerate the use of global data. For example, the Data Use Acceleration and Learning program tries to identify the components required for long-term digital transformation. One such factor is the availability of interoperable digital health systems, which needs strengthening health actors’ skills to promote a data-driven culture and secure the backing of government and stakeholder groups in developing digital and data initiatives.
According to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a standardized framework for coordinating efforts across diseases would make it easier to treat many NTDs simultaneously. Cooperation is essential to the success of global efforts to eradicate NTDs, and resources should be provided to strengthen governance and encourage data and resource sharing for the common good.
It is critical to avoid having technical improvements increase socioeconomic inequities. The World Health Organization advocates for a gender perspective in healthcare, pointing out that males disproportionately influence women’s decisions to seek medical attention due to inequalities in social position, family responsibilities, and other variables.
Recent studies show that mobile health initiatives benefit women, but it will take more to remove patriarchal structures. To guarantee that NTDs are eradicated from all populations, health technology research and development, data collecting, and analysis must all be done from a gender perspective.
Despite their designation, “non-territorial diseases” (NTDs) do not have a geographical boundary and can spread quickly. Climate change is a significant factor in the spread of NTDs into new places. As a result, if NTDs are not eradicated, they will have terrible consequences for civilizations worldwide.
Cross-disease and multi-national funding from prominent donors such as The Gates Foundation and Wellcome are required to guarantee that NTD diagnosis and monitoring technology is developed for the locations that need it the most. More monitoring from governments and health authorities worldwide is required to increase the efficiency with which data can be shared and evaluated for the benefit of all. Medical practitioners and scientific researchers