NTDs affect more than a billion people worldwide. Many NTDs have disabling consequences. Well-known examples include leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and Buruli ulcer.
There is an urgent need of more data on disease complications and other aspects of disability among affected persons. These data are vital for political advocacy, fundraising, needs assessments, programme management, and intervention evaluation. One reason for the current data gap is the lack of agreed instruments to assess the various aspects of NTD impairments.
Because of the similarities in the aspects between NTDs, it is possible to use a cross-NTD toolkit for this purpose. Together with the ‘Disease Management, Disability and Inclusion (DMDI) Working Group’ of the NTD NGO Network (NNN), we are developing such a toolkit. The selection of toolkit instruments is based on the conceptual model of the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. We aimed to include existing instruments that have already been validated for other conditions, preferably in one or more NTD-endemic countries.
Although the NMD Toolkit will remain a dynamic work-in-progress, the tools that have been validated can already be used.