According to the international health agency, an estimated 1 billion people received treatment in 2015 alone
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported remarkable achievement in tackling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) since 2007. According to the international health agency, an estimated 1 billion people received treatment in 2015 alone.
“WHO has observed record-breaking progress towards bringing ancient scourges like sleeping sickness and elephantiasis to their knees,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan, says.
The latest WHO report on NTDs shows that strong political support, generous donations and improvement in living conditions have led to sustained expansion of disease control programmes in countries where NTDs are most prevalent.
In 2012, partners endorsed a WHO-NTD roadmap, committing additional support and resources to eliminate 10 most common NTDs.
NTDs and the poor
The poor have always suffered from deadly, painful and disfiguring diseases. However, since 2007, WHO has helped streamline delivery of donated drugs to help tackle NTDs.
During the London Declaration of 2012, leading pharmaceutical companies agreed to billions of dollars’ worth of drug donations through 2020. This is helping close to a billion people per year get access to free treatment. Several tropical diseases are on the path of being eliminated now.
NTDs are associated with poverty. Furthermore, tropical diseases flourish in impoverished environments.
Once widely prevalent, many of these diseases gradually disappeared as economies developed and living conditions and hygiene improved. Today, NTDs flourish in places where sub-standard housing, lack of access to safe water and sanitation, chronic hunger, filthy environment, and insects contribute to their efficient transmission.
In the recent past, the need to control NTDs was not felt, as the diseases rarely travelled beyond impoverished surroundings.
However, the situation has changed in the past 10 years, making the control of these diseases one of the best rags-to-riches success stories in modern times.
The report highlights the need to further scale up action. “Further gains in the fight against neglected tropical diseases will depend on wider progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals,” Dirk Engels, director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, says.
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