The Tropical Disease Motion Picture and Audiovisual Collection at the National Library of Medicine consists of an estimated 120 titles dealing with highly infectious diseases prevalent in hot, humid, tropical environments. Some of these diseases once were widespread in temperate regions as well, but have been contained by aggressive public health measures. The guide's scope is specifically limited to tropical diseases in tropical areas of the world. It includes films, videorecordings, and digital videocasts in both the general and historical audiovisual collections at NLM. The diseases addressed are chiefly those defined as Neglected Tropical Diseases by the World Health Organization (WHO), or as Neglected Infectious Diseases by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), established in the 1970s by WHO, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank. Most of the affected areas are in developing regions of Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America, and the guide is limited to those regions lying within tropical latitudes.
To keep the guide manageable and focused, it does not include:
- Material on Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), a disease which emerged in the tropics but affects populations worldwide;
- Material on tuberculosis and Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in the United States, with the exception of the state of Hawaii and tropical territories such as Puerto Rico and Guam; or
- Material of a strictly scientific, laboratory-based nature (i.e. showing the life cycle of an organism, lab procedures, or the testing of a medical intervention) unless the lab or the activity is situated in a tropical locale.
For each item, the guide includes the following information:
- Date of publication
- Running time
- Link to the full catalog record in the National Library of Medicine’s online catalog, LocatorPlus
Many films address more than one tropical disease, and some deal with both tropical and non-tropical disease. Foci and contexts include causes, symptoms, prevention, treatment, the role of international organizations, public health campaigns, military needs and tactics, and the like.