The impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) on health and wellbeing in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA): A case study of Kenya Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) remain endemic to many regions of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) left behind by socioeconomic progress. As such, these diseases are markers of extreme poverty and inequity that are propagated by the political, economic, social, and cultural systems that affect health and wellbeing. As countries embrace and work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the needs of such vulnerable populations need to be addressed in local and global arenas. The research uses primary qualitative data collected from five NTD endemic counties of Kenya: interviews key informants (n = 21) involved in NTD implementation programs and focus groups (n = 5) of affected individuals. Informed by theories of political ecology of health, the research focuses on post-devolution Kenya and identifies the political, economic, social, and cultural factors that propagate NTDs and their effects on health and wellbeing. Our findings indicate that structural factors such as competing political interests, health worker strikes, inadequate budgetary allocations, economic opportunity, marginalization, illiteracy, entrenched cultural norms and practices, poor access to water, sanitation and housing, all serve to propagate NTD transmission and subsequently affect the health and wellbeing of populations. As such, we recommend that post-devolution Kenya ensures local political, economic and socio-cultural structures are equitable, sensitive and responsive to the needs of all people. We also propose poverty alleviation through capacity building and empowerment as a means of tackling NTDs for sustained economic opportunity and productivity at the local and national level.

publication date

  • February 2021