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Neglected Tropical Diseases

NTDs, including dengue fever, impact over a billion people and strain economies in countries like Brazil.

By Alishbah Naveed / Edited by Mehmet Mercan

Updated November 18, 2023

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a total of 20 different diseases in rural or developing areas. They impact more than 1 billion people; however, these conditions are not given the appropriate attention by global health agencies. NTDs are neglected because of several reasons, but mainly because the regions they impact lack the economic or social resources to fund proper cure. The NTDs cause a lot of economic and social challenges to the countries they affect, such as a decline in GDP or a decrease in tourism to the country. Some NTDs are yellow fever, dengue, Buruli ulcer, and Soil-transmitted helminthiasis.

Dengue fever is a viral infection caused by a mosquito bite. It is common in tropical areas and has no specific cure aside from regular pain medications. It is often treatable at home, but can, in some cases, be fatal.

Brazil is one of the most prominent countries infested with dengue fever, with more than 1.5 million cases reported in 2019 alone. Brazil has had several dengue outbreaks in the past few decades, causing a significant decline in the country's economy. Dengue fever, along with the COVID-19 outbreak, caused a tremendous strain on Brazil's health rates. Dengue fever in Brazil is a prevalent disease due to several factors that contribute to it. Several regions in Brazil have high temperatures and high air humidity, which is a climate that perfectly suits the living conditions of the disease-transmitting mosquitoes.

Brazil is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, and as a result, people's sightseeing allows conditions such as dengue to spread quickly. However, the fatality rate in Brazil caused due to dengue fever is not as high as one might suspect. In 2018, only 863 people died due to dengue, while in 2019, 789 people died due to dengue.

Deaths by dengue are not the only threat to Brazil. In 2019, 22.4 million individuals missed working days due to this disease. The GDP in 2019 decreased by $876 million due to so many missed working days.

The several outbreaks of dengue fever in Brazil have also severely impacted the tourism industry. There was a 4% decrease in tourists in 2013 due to a dengue outbreak. This decrease in tourism has also caused a decline in Brazil's GDP as its economy relies heavily on the tourism industry.

Based on recent research, even though Brazil is the country with the most dengue fever, the majority of the cases in Brazil have been unreported. The particular reason for this is that the symptoms of dengue fever are very similar to a regular fever or cold, and pain medicine cures it. Due to this, most infections of dengue fever went unreported. In the next few years, dengue fever would cause an even more significant threat to Brazil. Due to that, Brazil is currently trying to improve its surveillance to detect dengue outbreaks much more efficiently.