Neglected Tropical Diseases Day: Poorest countries continue to be most affected, says WHO

UN body highlighted the tremendous effects COVID-19 had on community-based initiatives, access to healthcare facilities and healthcare goods supply chains

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 30 January 2023
A child suffering from trachoma, an NTD. Representative Photo: iStock.__

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) continue to disproportionately impact the most impoverished members of the international community, living in areas with inadequate water safety, sanitation and access to health care, said a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.

NTDs are a diverse group of 20 conditions mainly prevalent in tropical areas — caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.

Also read: 100 million Nigerians are at risk of neglected tropical diseases

Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023 report published on World NTD Day — January 30, 2023, highlighted the advancement and challenges in delivering NTD care worldwide against a backdrop of COVID-19-related disruptions.

Some 16 countries accounted for 80 per cent of the global NTD burden. Globally, nearly 1.65 billion people were estimated to require treatment for at least one NTD, the report highlighted.

Despite challenges, some accomplishments were made on this front in 2021-2022.

More than one billion people were treated for NTDs annually between 2016 and 2019, thanks to mass treatment initiatives. And in 2021, 25 per cent fewer people needed treatments against NTDs than in 2010.

“Around the world, millions of people have been liberated from the burden of neglected tropical diseases, which keep people trapped in cycles of poverty and stigma,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.

Also read: Neglected Tropical Diseases Day: India can beat them but that needs bold action

The document also highlighted the tremendous effects COVID-19 had on community-based initiatives, access to healthcare facilities and healthcare goods supply chains. As a result, between 2019 and 2020, 34 per cent fewer persons received treatment for NTDs.

It underscored greater efforts and investments required to reverse delays and accelerate progress towards the NTD road map targets by 2030.

WHO urged multi-sectoral collaboration and partnerships to achieve these targets. “We have the tools and the know-how not just to save lives and prevent suffering but to free entire communities and countries of these diseases. It’s time to act now, act together, and invest in NTDs,” said Ghebreyesus.

WHO called on additional partners and funders to step up and close the gaps preventing the full-scale implementation of NTD actions at the international and local levels.

Over 100 scientific recommendations, tools, and other information products were produced as a result of WHO’s NTD efforts in 2021 and 2022 to support the international NTD community, particularly poor countries. The global health body launched an NTD channel with 36 training courses on 19 different topics for healthcare professionals.

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