UNHCO is dedicated to the prevention of tropical diseases and infectious diseases that thrive in hot, humid conditions, such as malaria, leishmaniasis, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, Chagas disease, African trypanosomiasis, and dengue. Tropical diseases threaten the lives of a billion people worldwide and threaten the health of millions more.
Tropical diseases form a special group because all are strongly associated with poverty, all flourish in impoverished environments, in emerging nations and all thrive best in tropical areas. Most are ancient diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries. Once widely prevalent, many of these diseases gradually disappeared from large parts of the world as societies developed and living conditions and hygiene improved. But today, tropical diseases still impair the lives of an estimated one billion people.
UNHCO established a special program to focus on neglected infectious diseases which disproportionately affect poor and marginalized populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, Central America and South America.