The 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 working. 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 as:
•    Visceral leishmaniasis – a parasitic disease, caused by infected sand flies, which destroys the internal organs
•    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.

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