Study finds the economic benefits of intensive case management in African trypanosomiasis, leprosy, visceral leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease to be potentially huge among the poor

News article 15 Mar 2018

Researchers from LSTM have been involved in a study which forms the final article in a series of international studies on the economics of NTDs published in the journal PLOS NTDs. The team have found that there would be significant economic benefits in productivity gain from intensive case management and reaching the London Targets in four important neglected diseases, African trypanosomiasis, leprosy, visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.  The total global productivity gained for the four is US$ 10.7 billion for the period 2011-2020 and US$ 16.6 billion for the period 2021-2030. Reduction in out-pocket expenditures at the household level are potentially much larger: $251 billion and $313 billion for the same periods.

The international study group faced important limitations to the work, such as finding no studies on productivity loss from leprosy, and had to combine limited data from various sources, heterogeneous background, and of variable quality. Nevertheless, based on conservative assumptions and subsequent uncertainty analyses, they estimate that the benefits of achieving the targets are considerable. Under plausible scenarios, the economic benefits far exceed the necessary investments by endemic country governments and their development partners.

LSTM's Professor Louis Niessen, chair of the study's advisory board on economics and co-author said: "This study links, again, poverty and neglected diseases, putting NTDs higher on the international agenda on the Sustainable Development Goals. Despite large uncertainty, these benefits far exceed the investment required by governments and their development partners within all reasonable scenarios. Given the concentration of the NTDs among the poorest households, these investments represent good value for money sharing the world's prosperity." LSTM-led consortium COUNTDOWN will further contribute to the evidence on the potentially economic impact by NTDs control programmes.

PLOS completed a series of five papers on the global NTD burden and socio-economic benefits of the 2020 NTD targets.

Lenk EJ, Redekop WK, Luyendijk M, Fitzpatrick C, Niessen L, Stolk WA, et al. (2018) Socioeconomic benefit to individuals of achieving 2020 targets for four neglected tropical diseases controlled/eliminated by innovative and intensified disease management: Human African trypanosomiasis, leprosy, visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas disease. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 12(3): e0006250.