WHO urges vigorous action against neglected tropical diseases
MANILA, 24 October 2013 - Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) continue to cause suffering in 28 of the 37 countries and areas in WHO’s Western Pacific Region. In all, more than 100 million people at risk, most of them poor.
The World Health Organization Regional Committee for the Western Pacific, meeting in Manila, urges Member States to control or eliminate these diseases in order to reach the 2020 targets outlined in Accelerating Work to Overcome the Global Impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Roadmap for Implementation.
“Increased investments in prevention and control of neglected tropical diseases have succeeded in improving the health and well-being of people in many countries,” says WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr Shin Young-soo. “We urge Member States to ensure continued ownership of the programmes to prevent, control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases.”
Earlier this year, the Sixty-sixth World Health Assembly passed a resolution urging a vigorous response to all 17 NTDs, 13 of which are found in the Western Pacific Region.
Among a number of measures, the WHA resolution encouraged Member States to:
- ensure country ownership of prevention, control, elimination and eradication programmes;
- expand and implement interventions and advocate predictable, long-term international financing for activities related to control and capacity strengthening;
- integrate control programmes into primary health-care services and existing programmes;
- ensure optimal programme management and implementation; and
- achieve and maintain universal access to interventions and reach targets set out in the WHO global road map to 2020 on neglected tropical diseases.
WHO promotes the use of five public health strategies to control, eliminate and eradicate NTDs. These include: preventive chemotherapy; innovative and intensified disease management; vector control and pesticide management; safe drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene services and education; and veterinary public health services.
In September 2012, WHO’s Regional Committee for the Western Pacific endorsed the Regional Action Plan for Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Western Pacific (2012-2016), a road map to help countries in the Region control or eliminate NTDs.
The five-year plan focuses on seven key diseases: lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, blinding trachoma, leprosy, yaws, soil-transmitted helminthiases and foodborne trematodiases. The plan is in line with the WHO global NTD road map and serves as a template for integrated national NTD plans of action.
If left untreated, NTD infections can cause blindness, cognitive impairments, limitations in psychomotor development, disfigurement and even death. Families and communities suffer as those affected may lose the ability to work and take part in social life because of the stigma associated with disfigurement.
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Mr Ruel E. Serrano
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