From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
World Health Organization (WHO) has launched a 10 year road map that will, expectedly, herald the eradication of Guinea Worm, Yaw, Rabies, snake bike, elephantises and several other Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) among poor people across the world, especially in Africa.
WHO said that NTDs affect over 1 billion people globally, mostly poor community. It causes pain and disability, creating lasting health, social and economic consequences for individuals and societies. They prevent children from going to school and adults from going to work, trapping communities in cycles of poverty and inequity.
WHO was concerned that people affected by disabilities and impairments caused by NTDs often experience stigma within their communities, hindering their access to needed care and leading to social isolation.
WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a statement released on Thursday, said the road map for NTDs 2021–2030, will accelerate programmatic action and renew momentum by proposing concrete actions focused on integrated platforms for delivery of interventions, and thereby improve programme cost effectiveness and coverage.
He confirmed that the document which was endorsed by the World Health Assembly (WHA 73(33)) in November 2020, will assist the global community in salvaging and renewing hope of the people affected by the disease.
He said: “If we are to end the scourge of NTDs, 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.”
Director, WHO Department of Control of NTDs, Dr. Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, explained that the 10 year road map was designed to address critical gaps across multiple diseases by integrating and mainstreaming approaches and actions within national health systems, and across sectors.
“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.
“Additionally, the road map will track 10 cross-cutting targets and disease specific targets that include a reduction by more than 75 per cent in the number of deaths from vector-borne NTDs such as dengue, leishmaniasis and others, promote full access to basic water supply, sanitation and hygiene in areas endemic for NTDs and achieve greater improvement in collecting and reporting NTD data disaggregated by gender,” said Dr. Malecela.