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The burden of neglected tropical diseases in Ethiopia, and opportunities for integrated control and elimination

Kebede Deribe1*, Kadu Meribo2, Teshome Gebre3, Asrat Hailu4, Ahmed Ali5, Abraham Aseffa6 and Gail Davey1

Author Affiliations

1 Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Falmer, Brighton, United Kingdom

2 Federal Ministry of Health Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

3 International Trachoma Initiative, The Task Force for Global Health, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4 Faculty of Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

5 School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

6 Armauer Hansen Research Institute/ALERT, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Parasites & Vectors 2012, 5:240  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-5-240

Published: 24 October 2012



Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of chronic parasitic diseases and related conditions that are the most common diseases among the 2ยท7 billion people globally living on less than US$2 per day. In response to the growing challenge of NTDs, Ethiopia is preparing to launch a NTD Master Plan. The purpose of this review is to underscore the burden of NTDs in Ethiopia, highlight the state of current interventions, and suggest ways forward.


This review indicates that NTDs are significant public health problems in Ethiopia. From the analysis reported here, Ethiopia stands out for having the largest number of NTD cases following Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ethiopia is estimated to have the highest burden of trachoma, podoconiosis and cutaneous leishmaniasis in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the second highest burden in terms of ascariasis, leprosy and visceral leishmaniasis, and the third highest burden of hookworm. Infections such as schistosomiasis, trichuriasis, lymphatic filariasis and rabies are also common. A third of Ethiopians are infected with ascariasis, one quarter is infected with trichuriasis and one in eight Ethiopians lives with hookworm or is infected with trachoma. However, despite these high burdens of infection, the control of most NTDs in Ethiopia is in its infancy. In terms of NTD control achievements, Ethiopia reached the leprosy elimination target of 1 case/10,000 population in 1999. No cases of human African trypanosomiasis have been reported since 1984. Guinea worm eradication is in its final phase. The Onchocerciasis Control Program has been making steady progress since 2001. A national blindness survey was conducted in 2006 and the trachoma program has kicked off in some regions. Lymphatic Filariasis, podoconiosis and rabies mapping are underway.


Ethiopia bears a significant burden of NTDs compared to other SSA countries. To achieve success in integrated control of NTDs, integrated mapping, rapid scale up of interventions and operational research into co implementation of intervention packages will be crucial.

Names of WHO listed neglected tropical disease; Integration; Elimination; Ethiopia