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Project July 27, 2021

Begging for Treatment: Neglected Tropical Diseases During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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A COVID-19 screening center outside a neglected tropical disease clinic in Khartoum, Sudan
A COVID-19 screening center outside of a neglected tropical disease clinic in Khartoum, Sudan. Image courtesy of Ahmed Musa. Sudan, 2021.

Alongside the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous countries continue to battle neglected tropical diseases, which adversely burden impoverished and resource-poor communities. Cutaneous leishmaniasis, a stigmatizing skin disease, is difficult to treat under normal circumstances, let alone when a pandemic suddenly disrupts nearly every aspect of daily life.

Natalie Wodniak reports on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cutaneous leishmaniasis in Pakistan, where Médicins sans Frontières is the only non-governmental organization to treat the parasitic disease. From closed treatment centers to stalled clinical trials, experts describe the heartbreaking impacts both they and their patients have experienced due to COVID-19.

As the pandemic continues, the future of neglected tropical disease control is uncertain. In this project, Wodniak highlights the need for a renewed focus on neglected diseases and sheds light on the real-world impacts the past year has had on non-COVID research.

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