Marginalized populations

Marginalized populations

GOAL: Accelerate elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) via tailored testing strategies

NTDs are a diverse group of 20 diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical climates. These diseases disproportionately affect the poorest and the most marginalized communities, primarily women and children, and as a result they are important tracers for identifying disparities in progress towards UHC and equitable access to quality health services. NTDs are responsible for the loss of 17 million healthy years globally, with a high proportion being lost in sub-Saharan Africa. For the past two decades, stakeholder commitments and action spurred by the WHO 2012–2020 NTD roadmap have resulted in significant achievements in the control and elimination of NTDs. Today, 500 million fewer people need treatment for NTDs than in 2010, and 40 countries or areas have eliminated at least one NTD. Nonetheless, over 1 billion people worldwide still require interventions. Less than 5% of the limited research and development funding made available to NTDs has been invested in diagnostics. There is a lack of coordination of R&D needs and, for many NTDs, poor return on investment, lack of data and inadequate forecasting mechanisms have led to low levels of investment. The focus on NTDs has been further diminished during the COVID-19 pandemic, with WHO advising that NTD surveys, active case-detection activities and mass drug administration campaigns should be postponed. As a result, there is an urgent need for redoubled efforts as countries recover from the pandemic. The WHO 2021–2030 NTD roadmap identifies diagnostics as central to accelerating progress and making up lost ground.

Our focus is on addressing key diagnostic gaps that must be filled to achieve the respective disease targets.



  1. Develop a diagnostic pipeline aligned with the needs identified in the WHO NTD 2021–2030 roadmap and support advocacy to address critical product and funding gaps
  2. Improve diagnosis and surveillance for NTDs with particularly significant diagnostic unmet needs: Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, sleeping sickness (HAT), leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis and schistosomiasis


Indicative deliverables:

  • 1 novel RDT for an NTD
  • Support for local production of 1 RDT for an NTD
  • Evaluations of new diagnostic tests for leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis
  • Specimen banks to support the development of new diagnostics for NTDs
  • Strengthened country capacity for sleeping sickness (HAT) testing in 6 endemic countries and leishmaniasis testing in 1 endemic country