Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of chronic disabling infections affecting more than 1 billion people worldwide, mainly in Africa and mostly those living in remote rural areas, urban slums or conflict zones. Beyond their negative impact on health, NTDs contribute to an ongoing cycle of poverty and stigma that leaves people unable to work, go to school or participate in family and community life.
The European Foundations Initiative for African Research into Neglected Tropical Diseases (EFINTD) is a response from five European Foundations – Cariplo, Gulbenkian, Merieux, Nuffield and Volkswagen. They see NTD control as representing a largely untapped development opportunity to alleviate poverty in the world’s poorest populations, with a direct impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
EFIND's objective is to strengthen African research capacity in neglected tropical diseases and related public health research.
The main vehicle of support is its Fellowship Programme. The Programme aims to build up a cadre of African researchers in the field, strengthening African research institutions in the process. It has been designed so that research topics are based on African needs and priorities, rather than Northern research interests.
As well as funding pure scientific research, for example on how effective various drugs are, the programme seeks to strengthen public health research, for instance on drug delivery systems. The programme offers fellowships both for junior researchers who have recently completed their doctorate studies and experienced researchers ready to take on larger research programmes.
Neglected Tropical Diseases are one of the key areas of concern for our society. These communicable diseases affect an estimated one billion people, primarily poor populations living in tropical and subtropical climates, with children being the most vulnerable to infection.
WHO lists 17 diseases under the NTD group. They flourish in impoverished, tropical environments and, though medically diverse, tend to co-exist. Most are ancient diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries and have been largely wiped out in parts of the world with better living conditions and hygiene.