The World Health Organisation (WHO) has rolled out a 10-year road map for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which proposes ambitious targets and innovative approaches to tackle 20 diseases affecting more than a billion people.
According to a statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, the move is geared towards the quest of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals by year 2030.
The project tagged ‘Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030’ aims to accelerate programmatic action and renew momentum.
According to the agency, the plan was endorsed by the World Health Assembly (WHA 73(33)) in November 2020 and will propose concrete actions focused on integrated platforms for delivery of interventions, and thereby improve programme cost-effectiveness and coverage.
The road map targets include the eradication of guinea worm and a 90 per reduction in the need for treatment for NTDs by 2030.
“If we are to end the scourge of neglected tropical diseases, we urgently need to do things differently,” WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said.
“This means injecting new energy into our efforts and working together in new ways to get prevention and treatment for all these diseases, to everyone who needs it.”
NTDs are diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries – affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year.
Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.
About 122 million people in Nigeria are at risk of getting NTDs, Chukwuma Anyaike, Director and National Coordinator of Neglected Tropical Diseases Control/Elimination/Eradication Programme said last November.
Some of the diseases include Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis), Soil Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH), Onchocerciasis (River blindness), Trachoma (Granular Conjuctivitis) and Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia).
The agency said the road map aims to reduce by 90 per cent the number of people requiring treatment for NTDs and eliminate at least one NTD in 100 countries.
“To eradicate two diseases (dracunculiasis and yaws) and to reduce by 75 per cent the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) related to NTD.”
“Additionally, the road map will track 10 cross-cutting targets and disease-specific targets that include a reduction by more than 75 per cent in the number of deaths from vector-borne NTDs such as dengue, leishmaniasis and others, promote full access to basic water supply, sanitation and hygiene in areas endemic for NTDs and achieve greater improvement in collecting and reporting NTD data disaggregated by gender.”
The international agency said substantial gains have been made in the past decade resulting in 600 million fewer people at risk of NTDs than a decade ago and with 42 countries eliminating at least one NTD, including some defeating multiple NTDs.
“Furthermore, global programmes treated more than 1 billion people a year1 for 5 consecutive years between 2015 – 2019,” It said.
It, however, said some significant challenges including climate change, conflict, emerging zoonotic and environmental health threats, as well as continued inequalities in access to healthcare services remain a threat to achieving the goals.
The road map is designed to address critical gaps in the treatment of multiple diseases by integrating and mainstreaming approaches and actions within national health systems, and across sectors.
“At its core, this road map aims to put people first. It involves working across sectors in delivering programmes for all the 20 NTDs and promote equity and country ownership,” said Mwelecele Malecela, Director, WHO Department of Control of NTDs.
“To do so programmes have to be sustainable with measurable outcomes, backed by adequate domestic financing.”
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