WHO calls for more action to end ‘cycles of poverty and stigma’ associated with tropical diseases

tag World Day of Neglected Tropical DiseasesThe UN agency published report highlighting the progress and challenges in providing care for these 20 conditions that mainly affect the poorest people in the world.

NTDs are caused by a variety of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins, and can be fatal. Other examples are Buruli ulcer, Chagas disease, chikungunya, rabies, scabies and yaws.

Stigma and difficulties

They are mainly distributed in tropical areas, primarily in places where water security, sanitation and access to health care are insufficient. These diseases often cause lifelong stigma and consequent economic hardship and have devastating health, social and economic consequences.

While almost 180 countries and territories reported at least one case of NTDs in 2021, only 16 countries account for 80 percent of the global burden. On a global scale, some 1.65 million people It is estimated that at least one of these conditions needs treatment.

“Across the world, millions of people have been freed from the burden of neglected tropical diseases that keep people trapped in a cycle of poverty and stigmatization.” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General.

“But as this progress report shows, we have a lot of work to do,” he added.

Building on progress

The report shows that the number of people in need of NTD interventions dropped by 80 million in the period from 2020 to 2021.

In addition, eight countries have eradicated at least one of these diseases during this period. As of last year, there were 47 countries, and many of them are on track to achieve this goal.

According to WHO, these achievements are based on a decade of significant progress, with 25% fewer people in need of interventions in 2021 than in 2010.

In addition, between 2016 and 2019, more than a billion people were treated annually for NTDs.

Impact of COVID-19

However COVID-19 The pandemic has also had a significant impact on community-based interventions, access to healthcare facilities, and supply chains for healthcare products.

Because of, 34% fewer people received treatment between 2019 and 2020, even if the general reopening of activities resulted in an 11 percent increase in recovery the following year, with about 900 million people on treatment.

In 2020, the WHO governing body, the World Health Assembly, endorsed the NTD roadmap for the coming decade, and the report highlights the need for more action and investment to reverse delays and accelerate progress.

Accountability, funding and partnerships

Promoting country ownership and accountability and sustainable and predictable funding will be key to delivering quality NTD services.

WHO also stressed the importance of multisectoral collaboration and partnerships.

Last week the UN agency signed a new agreement with Gilead Sciences, a US-based research-based biopharmaceutical company, for the donation of 304,700 ampoules of AmBisome, an antifungal drug used to treat visceral leishmaniasis in countries most affected by the disease such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nepal, Somalia. and South Sudan.

This new three-year collaboration, which extends the previous agreement until 2025, is valued at $11.3 million and will also help expand coverage and access to diagnosis and treatment.

WHO called on more partners and donors to fill the gaps that prevent the full implementation of NTD activities at the global and local levels.

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