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UK funding increased to fight neglected tropical diseases

4The UK government is investing an extra £200m in programmes to fight neglected tropical diseases,

which affect more than a billion people in the world's poorest countries.

Without treatment, river blindness, guinea-worm and trachoma can disable children and stop adults


The funding will go towards the distribution of tablets to treat diseases and research into new drugs.

Ministers said the aim was to eliminate neglected tropical diseases for good.

The announcement comes ahead of a World Health Organization conference in Geneva dedicated to

neglected tropical diseases and their eradication.

Over the next four years, the UK will spend a total of £360m on programmes to tackle diseases such


Visceral leishmaniasis – a parasitic disease, caused by infected sand flies, which destroys the internal


Guinea-worm disease – an infection transmitted through dirty drinking water containing water fleas

Trachoma – infection from poor hygiene practices which can cause blindness

Lymphatic filariasis – infection transmitted by mosquitoes which can cause swelling of lower limbs

This is double what has been spent annually in the previous four years, the Department for

International Development said.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel said the UK's support would protect more than 200

million people "from a future blighted by tropical disease".

"These diseases belong to the last century. They cause unimaginable suffering and pain to some of

the world's poorest people, forcing them into a deeper cycle of poverty with no way out. Yet they

are treatable.

"These diseases have been named 'neglected' for a reason, but I'm not prepared for them to be

neglected any longer."

The WHO has classified 18 diseases as neglected but treatable tropical diseases, including dengue

and chikungunya, leprosy, sleeping sickness and Chagas disease.

They are all infectious diseases that occur in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries of

the world.

They mainly affect people who live in poverty, who have no clean drinking water and who are in

close contact with infectious insects and animals, such as mosquitoes.

They cost billions of dollars every year to developing economies because adults affected are too ill to

go to work.

The diseases are avoidable but if not treated, they can deform, disable and even kill.

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