WHO should tackle 20 neglected tropical diseases

New Delhi – Delegates attend the virtual session of the 73rd World Health Assembly (November 12) endorse a new roadmap setting specific targets to tackle 20 neglected tropical diseases [NTDs] by 2030 through focused interventions.

NTDs, the road map said, “is a diverse set of 20 illnesses and disease groups [e.g. lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, human African trypanosomiasis, leprosy, and so on] with a single commonality: its impact on impoverished communities. Together they hit more than a billion people with devastating health, social and economic consequences “.

The targets in the new roadmap (2021 – 2030) include: 90% reduction in the number of people needing treatment for NTDs, elimination of at least one NTD in 100 countries, eradication of two NTDs, ie drakunculiasis and yaws, and decrease in the NTD-related disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) by 75 percent.

“Countries are the drivers and beneficiaries of the progress made in the 2030 targets for NTDs. Nationally and locally governments must therefore lead work to define agendas and achieve their objectives, partly or fully funded by domestic funds, “said the road map.” Countries must integrate and prioritize prevention and control of endemic NTDs in national health plans and dedicate a corresponding line item in national health budgets. “

Lymphedema caused by lymphatic filariasis. Image Credit: Nguyen Minh Duc / RTI International (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The roadmap has been developed through extensive global consultations since 2018 and replaces an older map published in 2012 WHO, “The new roadmap will advance the NTD agenda, with opportunities to stimulate efforts through comprehensive multisectoral approaches cooperation. “

Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, director, WHO Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases Control, has in a statement, “The new roadmap addresses critical gaps across multiple diseases, integrates and approaches approaches within national health systems and coordinate action across sectors. It also provides us with opportunities to evaluate, evaluate and adapt programmatic actions over the next decade. ‘

According to Michael Head, senior research fellow in world health at the University of Southampton, UK, the NTD roadmap has a series of clearly described and ambitious but achievable targets. “It is excellent to see that the roadmap is being formally adopted, and hopefully it will draw attention to making significant progress in reducing the burden on NTDs.”

Head tells SciDev.Net that some NTDs, such as African trypanosomiasis, are closer to elimination than others where there was still little focus, such as scabies. “These diseases do not kill many people and often do not get outbreaks, but they are all very unpleasant and pose real threats to health and quality of life,” he said. Peter Hotez, founder editor-in-chief of PLoS neglected tropical diseases and dean, National School of Tropical Medicine, TX, USA, says he’s worried about it COVID-19 may cause progress to return due to an increase in the number of people living in extreme poverty. “This means more people will now be vulnerable to NTDs.”

In addition, Jotez says, COVID-19 could interfere with the work of drug distributors in the community or reorder funds for NTDs.

‘We must emphasize that the world’s most vulnerable people are now growing in numbers due to COVID-19 and therefore [there is a need] to emphasize the importance of [expanding] control programs for NTDs, “Hotez argues.

“We must go further [stress on] the importance of new biotechnologies for NTDs, including new medicines, diagnostics, vaccines and vector control technologies, ”He adds.

This piece was originally produced by SciDev.Net’s Asia & Pacific desktop.


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