"Poverty-Related Diseases" is a loosely defined term relating to a diverse group of mostly infectious diseases, but the definition also includes non-communicable diseases. The main groups of diseases included are:
- The "Big Three" - HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis
- Neglected Tropical Diseases
- Neglected Zoonotic Diseases, and
- a fourth group of "other" diseases, which also includes non-communicable diseases
Poverty-related diseases can also be classified based on the causative pathogens: viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and parasitic worms.
Poverty-related diseases affect the lives of more than a billion people globally and lead to millions of deaths each year. They are the leading cause of death in children and adolescents. These diseases primarily affect low- and medium-income countries, where they cause a major burden on the population's health and have a considerable negative impact on economic development. The most vulnerable are those people who do not have access to adequate healthcare. Poverty-related diseases are both a consequence and a cause of poverty in developing countries, resulting in a persistent threat to global health.
Poor access to adequate healthcare often leads to under-diagnosis, lack of treatment or mistreatment of infectious diseases, and results in high morbidity and mortality. Yet, when diagnosed properly and timely, most of these conditions are entirely treatable or even preventable.
There remains a serious lack of quality diagnostics for many neglected and poverty-related diseases, complicating early diagnosis and evidence-based treatment, which has a serious impact on the disease burden in many low- and medium-income countries.
The Most Vulnerable
Pregnant women and children constitute the most vulnerable part of the population in most countries, and congenital (mother-to-child) transmission of disease may either cause abortion, newborn death, or lifelong severe disabilities such as blindness.
HIV and syphilis sadly compete as the number one risk of congenital transmission during pregnancy and co-infections are very common. Whereas these and other diseases pose a severe threat to the mother and child, they are most often preventable and treatable. Lack of availability of affordable high-quality diagnostics, however, often prevents diagnosis and timely treatment of these conditions, with dire consequences.