Summit on Neglected Tropical Diseases Opens In Geneva

five-day summit focussing attention on eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases opened in Geneva, Switzerland coinciding with the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Fourth Report on NTDs which shows some progress in the eliminaton of these diseases.

The meeting comes five years after the launch of the London Declaration on NTDs, a commitment by the public and private sectors to achieve the WHO goals for control, elimination and eradication of 10 NTDs.

 NTDs are some of the oldest and most painful diseases, afflicting the world’s poorest communities. One in six people suffer from NTDs worldwide, including more than half a billion children. NTDs disable, debilitate and perpetuate cycles of poverty, keeping children out of school, parents out of work, and dampening hope of any chance of an economic future.

 Accordig to WHO’s new report titled Integrating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Global Health and Development, nearly a billion people were reached with needed NTD intervention drugs more than before in 2015 while nearly a billion people received treatments donated by pharmaceutical companies for at least one NTD, representing a 36 percent increase since 2011.

As more districts, countries and regions eliminate NTDs, the number of people requiring treatments has decreased from 2 billion in 2010 to 1.6 billion in 2015, noted the WHO.

 According to the WHO Director Genral, Dr Margaret Chan, “WHO has observed record-breaking progress towards bringing ancient scourges like sleeping sickness and elephantiasis to their knees.

“Over the past 10 years, millions of people have been rescued from disability and poverty, thanks to one of the most effective global partnerships in modern public health”, said Chan

 The report detailed progress against each disease, citing countries and regions that are reaching control and elimination goals for specific NTDs. Highlights include:

 Lymphatic filariasis (LF) racing toward finish line: In the last year, eight countries (Cambodia, Cook Islands, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Niue, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu) eliminated LF, and 10 other countries are waiting on surveillance results to verify elimination. Thanks to strong programs, the number of people globally requiring preventative treatment has dropped from 1.4 billion in 2011 to fewer than 950 million in 2015.

Fewest-ever cases of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT, or sleeping sickness): In 2015, there were fewer reported cases of sleeping sickness than any other year in history, with fewer than 3,000 cases worldwide – an 89 percent reduction since 2000. Innovative vector control and diagnostic technologies, supported by increasing numbers of product development partnerships, are revolutionizing sleeping sickness diagnosis, prevention and treatment.

Eighty-two percent decrease in visceral leishmaniasis (VL) cases in India, Nepal and Bangladesh: Since 2008, cases of VL across India, Nepal and Bangladesh have decreased by 82 percent due to improvements in vector control, social mobilization of village volunteers, collaboration with other NTD programs and drug donations from industry partners.

·Guinea worm disease nearing eradication: Cases of Guinea worm disease have reduced from an estimated 3.5 million in 1986 to just 25 human cases in 2016 in just three countries – Chad, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

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