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Updated On: Tuesday, September 26 2017

Combating Neglected Tropical Diseases

Content by: South-South News

21 April, New York, USA | South-South News — The World Health Organization reports remarkable achievements in tackling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) since 2007. An estimated one billion people received treatment in 2015 alone.

The WHO report, Integrating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Global Health and Development, demonstrates how strong political support, generous donations of medicines, improvements in living conditions, have led to sustained expansion of disease control programs in countries where these diseases are most prevalent.

Dirk Engels, Director of the Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases Department of the WHO said, “In 2015 alone, about one billion people were treated for Neglected Tropical Diseases, both large scale preventive treatment and treatment of disease, of clinical disease.”

Since 2007, when a group of global partners met to agree to tackle NTDs together, a variety of local and international partners have worked alongside ministries of health in endemic countries to deliver quality-assured medicines, and provide people with care and long-term management. “We have made progress even for diseases that are fairly complex, and where we didn’t anticipate such good results when we set the targets in 2012,” Engels said, “I am mainly referring now to African sleeping sickness, where we have a number of cases that is well under 3,000, in 2015. And here we are ahead of our targets. Another disease in which we are ahead of our 2020 targets is Visceral Leishmaniosis in south-east Asia.”

In 2012, partners endorsed a WHO NTD Roadmap, committing additional support and resources to eliminating 10 of the most common NTDs.

“Tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases is perfectly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals because of their intimate link with poverty,” Engels said, “Neglected Tropical Diseases keep people in poverty and poverty keeps them with Neglected Tropical Diseases. So, what we aim at, is on the one hand that everyone with Neglected Tropical Diseases has access to treatment and at the same time aim to improve the living and economic conditions of these people so that they lift themselves out of poverty and so that nobody with Neglected Tropical Diseases is left behind.”

Key achievements include: - 1 billion people treated for at least one neglected tropical disease in 2015 alone; 556 million people received preventive treatment for lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis); More than 114 million people received treatment for onchocerciasis (river blindness: 62 percent of those requiring it; - Only 25 human cases of Guinea-worm disease were reported in 2016, putting eradication within reach; - Cases of human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) have been reduced from 37,000 new cases in 1999 to well under 3,000 cases in 2015; Trachoma - the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness - has been eliminated as a public health problem in Oman, Morocco and Mexico. More than 185,000 trachoma patients had surgery for trichiasis worldwide and more than 56 million people received antibiotics in 2015 alone; Visceral leishmaniosis: in 2015 the target for elimination was achieved in 82 percent of sub-districts in India, 97 percent of sub-districts in Bangladesh, and in 100% of districts in Nepal. - Only 12 reported human deaths were attributable to rabies in the Region of the Americas in 2015, bringing the region close to its target of eliminating rabies in humans by 2015.

However, the report also highlights the need to further scale up action in other areas.

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