General Studies Paper 2 (Social Justice)
Question:- 110. What are neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)? Briefly discuss the initiatives by the Indian government in fighting the NTDs in the country. Answer in 150 words.
Nov 09, 2022


These are a diverse group of communicable diseases that are common in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries. These are most common among marginalised communities in the developing regions of Africa, Asia and the Americas.

NTDs threaten more than 1.7 billion people living in the poorest and most marginalized communities worldwide. The epidemiology of NTDs is complex and often related to environmental conditions. Many of them are vector-borne, have animal reservoirs, and are associated with complex life cycles. All these factors make their public-health control challenging.

They are caused by a variety of pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worms. They are preventable and treatable.



As per WHO data, India ranks on top in the number of cases for many major NTDs in the world. India carries the largest burden of at least 11 of these diseases, with parasitic illnesses like kala-azar and lymphatic filariasis affecting millions of people throughout the country, often the poorest and most vulnerable.

The following initiatives have been taken by Indian govt. to fight these diseases:



  1. The Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) was launched in 2018, as part of intensifying efforts towards the elimination of NTDs.
  2. The WHO-supported regional alliance was established by the governments of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in 2005to expedite early diagnosis and treatment of the most vulnerable populations and improve disease surveillance and control of sandfly populations (Kala-azar).
  3. National Rabies Control Programme: It provides vaccination to stray dogs and free vaccines through Government Hospitals all over the country.
  4. National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP): It is a program for the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases namely Malaria, Filaria, Kala-azar, Japanese Encephalitis (JE), Dengue, and Chikungunya.
  5. National Leprosy Eradication Programme: The program was launched to eliminate leprosy as a public health problem. In 2005, it was officially declared eliminated as a public health concern in India. This was when the new cases fell to less than 1 per 10,000. Yet, India accounts for the largest number of leprosy-affected people in the world. According to the World Health Organization report of 2017, India was able to eliminate Leprosy in 82% of the cities and districts.
  6. The National Health Policy: Established in 2017, the National health policy sets an ambition to stimulate innovation to meet the health needs and ensure that new drugs are affordable for those who need them most.
  7. The National Policy on Treatment of Rare Diseases: Focuses on identifying and researching treatments for rare diseases and infectious tropical diseases.



The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has in the past mentioned that India has eradicated Infectious Trachoma and chronic disease Yaws from the country. Similarly, leprosy has ceased to be a public health concern in the country, and mass treatment coverage has also been achieved for people susceptible to Filaria. Recently, it was identified that over 80% of the global deaths due to snakebites occur in India alone every year. The government’s progress in controlling many NTDs has been remarkable, however it’s high time that we handled incidents of snakebites. A comprehensive national strategy focusing on human-animal conflict would be a positive step in this regard.