WHO Claims Remarkable Progress in Combating Neglected Tropical Diseases

The debilitating effects of these diseases often keep children out of school and adults out of work, perpetuating cycles of poverty.

“In 2015, the target for the elimination of visceral leishmaniasis was achieved in 82 per cent of sub-districts in India, in 97 per cent of sub-districts in Bangladesh, and in 100 per cent of districts in Nepal”, WHO in its new report “Integrating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Global Health and Development” said.

“The UK’s support will protect more than 200 million people from a future blighted by tropical disease and represents a huge leap towards ending this scourge”. Looking at the data before and after the World Health Organization published its first plan in 2008, global achievements in reducing neglected diseases went from “pretty stagnant” to “increasing, sequentially, every year, the number of people that have been reached and countries that have achieved their targets”, said Jacobson.

“Millions of people have been rescued from disability and poverty, thanks to one of the most effective global partnerships in modern public health”, said Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO, in a press release.

He noted that so much progress has been made in the treatment of onchocerciasis, or river blindness, that “we are now thinking of setting a new target of elimination post-2020”.

Nonetheless, the report also points out the need to improve responses in other areas. The report further showed that in the past year, eight countries (Togo, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Niue, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu) eliminated LF, and 10 other countries are waiting on surveillance results to verify elimination. The treatment costs less than $1 per person, and the implementation of mass drug administration has cured millions thus far.

When the bid to eradicate Guinea worm kicked off in 1986, it is estimated that 3.5 million people in 21 African and Asian countries were infected with the excruciatingly painful worms, which are acquired by drinking contaminated water.

Governments and other donors announced new commitments at the summit to expand the reach and impact of NTD programs around the world.

The effort to ease the burden of neglected tropical diseases has been led by the World Health Organization and a host of other institutions and nonprofits, notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“There’s also a group of diseases that you can actually treat preventatively”, said Engels, such as worm diseases.

Back in 2007, grounded by its conviction to promote equitable access to quality health care worldwide, the World Health Organization made a deliberate decision to take aggressive action against these diseases.

The Government’s International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “These diseases belong to the last century”.

“There have been many successes in the past five years, but the job is not done yet”, Gates said. Gates also lauded the United Kingdom government’s pledge to double its support for the cause. Engel said a subregional program was organized to provide early treatment with donated medicines and vector control through indoor residual spraying, similar to that used in malaria control.

Mr Jimmy Carter, Founder of the Carter Centre in a video message commended the partners and the Gates Foundation for their support and commitment and pledged his Centre’s continuous support in eradicating guinea-worm and river blindness entirely from the world.

Over the past five years, Uniting to Combat NTD has contributed to significant improvement in fighting these severely infectious diseases, which affect millions. On Sunday, the British government announced it will spend 360 million pounds ($462 million) on neglected tropical diseases over the next five years; 205 million pounds ($263 million) of that is newly committed funding.

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