On October 25th the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases celebrated its 5th birthday. As with all anniversaries, it is a time to look back on the past and also chart the course towards the future.
Neglected tropical diseases are inherently unique. 17 scientifically disparate diseases with very little in common. The saying “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” springs to mind. Collecting these diseases under one banner has done more for the cause than any individual drive. But the NTDs are a story of the people inflicted by these diseases as much as anything else. The one underlying commonality to all the NTDs is that they effect some of the world’s poorest. Those burdened by geography.
Dr Margaret Chan of the WHO describes them as cinderella diseases. Too often easily ignored, but given prominince thanks to the Millenium Development Goals and specialised journals like PLoS. It is a testament to how far NTDs have come in the last few years if you read the special collections by PJ Hotez and other authors at PLoSNTDs. We now know that NTDs are not only restricted to what we once thought of as the developing world — with a reach as far as Australia and Texas. We now talk of NTDs and how they relate to global security, the catholic world, the “post-American world”, nuclear weapons, and indigenous communities.
So happy birthday PLoSNTDs, the journal that aims to inspire people to think about our global diversity of people and their NTDs.