Commentary: Mass administration of low-cost drugs around the globe could make a huge impact.

HOUSTON, Texas — This past weekend, the Sherpas for the group of 20 nations met for the third time in St. Petersburg to lay the ground work for the G20 Leaders Summit in September.

Absent from any public disclosures of these meetings and the proposed fall agenda, so far, have been a newly revealed underbelly of disease and poverty in the G20 countries resulting from a group of chronic and debilitating infections known as the neglected tropical diseases or “NTDs.”

NTDs are long-lasting and disabling parasitic and related infections that few people know about, such as leishmaniasis, elephantiasis, liver fluke, Chagas disease, and hookworm infection. They are the most common infections of poor people, rendering them too sick for work or productive activities and with the ability to reduce child intellect and future wage earning. The NTDs disproportionately affect girls and women.

Whereas most people think about the NTDs as exclusive to destabilized countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, or Haiti, my recent analysis, published in Foreign Policy, has found that most of the world’s NTDs paradoxically occur in G20 countries in addition to Nigeria.

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