Social stigma towards neglected tropical diseases: a systematic review

Int Health. 2016 Mar;8 Suppl 1:i53-70. doi: 10.1093/inthealth/ihv071.


Background: People affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are frequently the target of social stigmatization. To date not much attention has been given to stigma in relation to NTDs. The objective of this review is to identify the extent of social stigma and the similarities and differences in the causes, manifestations, impact of stigma and interventions used between the NTDs.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted in Pubmed, ScienceDirect, PsycINFO and Web of Knowledge. The search encompassed 17 NTDs, including podoconiosis, but not leprosy as this NTD has recently been reviewed. However, leprosy was included in the discussion.

Results: The 52 selected articles provided evidence on stigma related to lymphatic filariasis (LF), podoconiosis, Buruli ulcer, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, trachoma, soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) and human African trypanosomiasis. The similarities predominated in stigma related to the various NTDs; only minimal differences in stigma reasons and measures were found.

Conclusion: These similarities suggest that joint approaches to reduce stigmatization may be feasible. Lessons from leprosy and other stigmatized health conditions can be used to plan such joint approaches. Further research will be necessary to study the efficacy of joint interventions and to investigate stigma related to NTDs for which no evidence is available yet.

Keywords: Disability; Discrimination; NTDs; Neglected tropical diseases; Social exclusion; Stigma.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neglected Diseases / psychology*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Tropical Medicine*