Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of infectious diseases that affect more than one billion people in 149 countries with millions of others at risk. The official list of NTDs prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO) currently consists of 17 infectious diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions. These diseases predominantly affect populations living in poverty where they live without adequate sanitation, nutrition, and healthcare and in close contact with infectious vectors of disease-causing agents. NTDs impair physical and cognitive development, productive capacity as well as causing a substantial number of adverse outcomes of pregnancy, morbidity and mortality. The economic repercussions of these diseases can be as devastated as their health effects.
Leishmaniasis is one of the vector-borne parasitic diseases categorized under NTDs that is endemic in large areas of tropics, subtropics, and the Mediterranean basin around the world. It presents a significant global health problem in approximately 98 countries, where there are a total of 350 million people at risk and 12 million cases of infections. Human infections are caused by more than 20 species of obligate protozoan parasites from genus Leishmania (Trypanosomatida: Trypanosomatidae). Leishmaniasis is transmitted through more than 30 species of infected female sandflies, (in old world-Phlebotamine and in new world-Leutzomia) whose hosts are animals such as canids, rodents, marsupials, hyraxes or human beings.