Introduction: The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are infectious diseases that principally impact the world's poorest people. They have been neglected for decades, initially as part of a general disregard for the developing world, and more recently due to the intensity of focus on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
Sources of data: Primary research and review articles were selected for inclusion using searches of PubMed and our existing collections.
Results: There have been recent notable successes in NTD control. Dracunculiasis is approaching eradication. Leprosy and onchocerciasis are in decline. There are ambitious plans to eliminate trachoma and lymphatic filariasis. Investment in NTD control has high rates of economic return.
Conclusion: Although there are proven strategies to control several NTDs, these diseases continue to cause a massive burden of morbidity. There is urgent need for more basic and operational research, drug and vaccine development, and greater prioritization by governments and international agencies.