Ethical Considerations for the Creation of a National Neglected Tropical Disease Policy
Iltis, Ana S.
Matthews, Kirstin R.W.
The term “neglected tropical diseases” (NTDs) refers to a group of parasitic, viral, and bacterial diseases that cause substantial and often debilitating illnesses, affecting more than one billion people globally. In the United States, addressing NTDs focuses largely on developing safe and effective mechanisms to prevent and treat NTDs. Furthermore, new or existing treatments must be made available to those in need—often people living in poverty or extreme poverty (less than $2 a day). But research, development, and delivery of these interventions is costly and relies mostly on funding from the federal government. With pressure to limit government expenditures, decisions regarding the allocation of limited resources entail balancing priorities, which involve many, often unarticulated or implicit, ethical judgments. This report highlights some of the central ethical issues pertaining to NTD policy development and argues that ethical considerations should be included in the policy development process. We conclude that the United States should develop an NTD policy to further reduce the prevalence and impact of NTDs both within and outside our borders.