Worms are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), a group of diseases caused by a variety of pathogens that affect the poorest and most deprived communities.
National and international efforts to control or eliminate NTDs have increased in recent years. The World Health Organization has provided a Roadmap for reducing the global burden of NTDs by 2020 and several commitments were made through the London Declaration in January 2013.
The major NTDs which are caused by worms are soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis. These NTDs contribute to 45% of the global burden of NTDs. Chronic, long-term and intense infection with soil-transmitted helminths (STH) and schistosomes can hold back children's physical and mental development. Damage to the human lymphatic system caused by lymphatic filariasis (LF) can be both debilitating and socially stigmatizing. Onchocerciasis can cause blindness, intense itching and skin depigmentation.
Fortunately, these effects can be prevented or reversed with simple drugs delivered through mass treatment. Manufacturers have pledged sufficient donated drugs to meet the needs of all endemic countries.