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WHO- Neglected Tropical Diseases

Posted on 4 February, 2020 at 8:10


In the current climate a lot of attention is focussing on the recent coronavirus outbreak form Wuhan, China. Whereas the global community is focussing on the rapid change necessary to control the spread of this infection, there is a need to retain the wider view of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD).

 

In January the WHO day for NTD went un-noticed by a lot of the media; however the 20 plus listed diseases/conditions remain a greater threat to the global community than the coronavirus outbreak.

 

The current NTD list covers infections that include:

Bacteria- trachoma, leprosy, Burundi ulcer,

Helminths- hookworm, ascariasis, filariasis, schistosomiasis, taeniasis

Protozoa- leishmaniasis, trypansomiasis

Viruses- dengue, chikungunya

Snake bite envenomation

 

It is estimated that 10% of the global population are suffering from one of the above infections and the all are in countries below the World Bank poverty line ($1.90/day).

 

These infections require substantial a international investment before eradication. The Gates Foundation has placed over $300million into a reduction of some of these and currently we are approaching the elimination of trypansomiasis in Africa and leishmaniasis on the Indian sub-continent.

 

Moving forward is the need to consider that financial investment into vaccines is the only method for reduction and final elimination. It is becoming evident of the need to combine other disease reduction streams such as the issuing of insect prevention bed nets and improved education on sanitation, washing and hygiene. These are supported by many other agencies who tackle the principles of adjusting the local cultures and beliefs to improve their own communities. Fundamental to these changes are the wish of the local communities to want to change; management of the change involving adjustments to existing cultures and the correct utilisation of products issued for disease reduction and control (eg bed nets).

 

Whilst the funding streams remain fragile due to economic pressures then the delivery of vaccines and chemotherapy will continue to suffer. Therefore a combined funded strategy has a place within the strategy for sustained delivery and progress in making changes utilising a global health pathway.

 

Ref

1. World Neglected Tropical Diseases day https://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0007999

2. What constitutes a Neglected Tropical Disease https://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0008001

 

 

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