What Are Neglected Diseases?

Also sometimes referred to as “neglected infections of poverty,” “neglected global diseases,” or “neglected tropical diseases,” neglected diseases (NDs) are a group of infections that together affect over 1 billion people in the world, and are estimated to account for at least 10% of the global disease burden.

Because these diseases are almost exclusively found among the world’s poorest populations, there is little incentive for for-profit R&D investment to create new treatments, vaccines or diagnostics for them.

Definitions of the scope of neglected diseases vary. To address this, the Report Card defines neglected diseases according to the authoritative G-FINDER Report (2011, p.14), an annual independent analysis of global ND research funding conducted by Policy Cures and sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The 2011 report was the most recent version available at the time Report Card data collection was conducted.



The following is a list of the specific diseases included in the scope of the Report Card’s “neglected diseases” definition (with approximate global population affected per year).

NOTE: For those diseases marked with an asterisk (*) below, only certain areas of research are considered “neglected” under the G-FINDER definition. This is because these diseases may draw significant investment for some research areas, but not others – again, often because the latter predominately affect low-income populations. The Report Card adheres to these distinctions; so, for example, research and capacity-building on pediatric formulations of HIV drugs were considered in relevant evaluation questions, while most adult formulations were not. (For more detailed explanation, please refer to the G-FINDER 2011 Report, Annexe 5 (p.110))


  • Ascariasis (800 million) –aka roundworm
  • Hookworm (700 million)
  • Trichuriasis (600 million) –aka whipworm
  • Schistosomiasis (200 million) – aka bilharzia
  • Tapeworm/Cysticercosis (50 million)

Filarial Worms

  • Lymphatic Filariasis (120 million) – aka elephantiasis
  • Onchocerciasis (35 million) – aka river blindness


  • Chagas Disease (10,000)
  • African Trypanosomiasis (50,000) – aka sleeping sickness
  • Leishmaniasis (1.3 million)– Leishmania donovani

Diarrheal Diseases (Bacterial and Viral)

  • Salmonella/Typhoid (100 million)
  • Enterotoxigenic + Enteroaggregative E.coli
  • Cholera* (5 million)
  • Shigella* (150 million)
  • Cryptosporidium*
  • Giardia*
  • Rotavirus* (125 million)

Other Bacterial Diseases

  • Trachoma (40 million)*
  • Meningococcal Meningitis*
  • Streptococcal Pneumonia*
  • Leprosy (300,000)
  • Buruli Ulcer (5,000)
  • Rheumatic Fever* (15 million)

Other Viral Diseases

  • Dengue (50 million)

The “Big Three”

  • HIV* (30 million)
  • Tuberculosis (2 billion)
  • Malaria (200 million)