New research on mental health, stigma and NTDs

Blog | January 30, 2024

A new research on Mental Health, Stigma, and Neglected Tropical Diseases has been published in the International Health Journal.

The last decade has seen huge interest in understanding how we can address the impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases like leprosy and lymphatic filariasis on the mental health and wellbeing of people affected. The result has been a rich and active collaboration between actors in the field, like national governments, local and international NGOs, and importantly, people living with the effects of NTDs.    

Somehow, the emergence of a clear agenda for elimination of these diseases in the early 2000s did not include a clear focus on supporting those already affected. However, the recent Kigali Declaration strongly asserts the importance of putting people and communities at the centre of coordinated NTD response, reinforced by the WHO NTD Roadmap 2021-2030.

Underpinning this ‘person-centred approach’, is a growing evidence-base, further strengthened by a new Supplement of International Health, the journal of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The first of two parts of the Supplement has just been released, and includes a number of unique features:

  • Throughout the Supplement we have sought to include the voice of people affected by NTDs, many of whom are also represented on the Guest Editorial Committee. We have included papers that demonstrate the profound personal and social impact of living with an NTD, and at the same time, sharing the exciting emergence of representative organisations of affected people, speaking increasingly confidently to impact on policy, intervention design and research.
  • Recognising the dominance of Anglophone research in such a global field, particular efforts were made to invite authors from non-English speaking countries to submit, and all the papers have abstracts available in French and Spanish alongside English.
  • There is a strong representation of people working in field programmes, collaborating with researchers to produce very grounded and practical evidence.  This is a dynamic community with a strong commitment to seeing evidence brought into practice.

We hope the Supplement will provide inspiration and evidence for the change that global frameworks demand, which many national actors in endemic countries seek to bring about.

Acknowledgement:

This Supplement was a collective endeavour, with many contributors who have championed better evidence and practice for mental health in the NTD field, including members of the NTD NGO Network. The Supplement was funded with support from CBM Global, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, The Leprosy Mission, The Carter Centre, Effect Hope, and grants supported by the National Institute for Health Research, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, and UK Aid. 

Read the new International Health Journal Supplement

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