WHO Rolls Out Plan To End Suffering From Neglected Tropical Diseases

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has outlined its strategy to tackle neglected tropical diseases that affect more than a billion people globally.

In the report titled, ‘Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030’, the disease targeted are dracunculiasis (guinea worm) and yaws.

It stated that the goal is to reduce the need for treatment for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 90 percent by 2030.

WHO’s boss Tedros Adhnom Ghebreyesus said that for any change to be effected in ending the diseases, the approach would need to be different.

He was quoted as saying, “If we are to end the scourge of neglected tropical diseases, we urgently need to do things differently.

“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.”

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Mainstream Approach

According to the organisation, the strategy that will be implemented will focus on tackling gaps across various diseases through integration and the mainstream approaches.

The Director, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases Dr. Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela said, “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.

“To do so programmes have to be sustainable with measurable outcomes, backed by adequate domestic financing.”

WHO’s 2030 Targets

The plan to end neglected tropical diseases was created through consultations with countries, stakeholders, partners, the scientific community, and academia.

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WHO’s listed targets for 2030 include:

Reduction of the number of people in need of treatment for NTDs by 90 percent;

100 countries to have eliminated at lease one NTD;

eradication of two diseases: dracunculiasis and yaws;

reduction of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) related to NTD by 75 percent.

Challenges Faced

The Organisation noted that progress has been impeded by factors such as climate change, conflict, emerging zoonotic and environmental health threats, and inequalities in access to healthcare services.

Other challenges include inadequate access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and adequate housing.

However, it stated that it had made some progress in the past decade, with 600 million fewer people at risk of NTDs than they were a decade ago.

It added that 42 countries had eliminated at least one NTD with some effectively tackling multiple NTDs.

Neglected Tropical Diseases – Background

More than 1 billion people are affected by NTDs the world over. These diseases cause pain and disability, resulting in lasting health, social and economic setbacks for both individuals and societies as a whole.

NTDs disrupt the lives of children and adults. Children are unable to attend school, while adults are unable to go to work.

Communities are challenged by cycles of poverty and inequity.

Individuals beset by NTD-induced disabilities and impairments face biting stigma from members of their communities, leading to their inability to get access to proper healthcare.

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