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Improve resistance to neglected tropical diseases, WHO urges countries

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for an international push to confront the inequalities that characterise Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and urged support for marginalised communities to get health services they need.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Photo credit: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, in his message on Sunday, January 30, 2022, to mark World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day (WNTDD), urged support for the poorest and most marginalised communities who are the most impacted to receive the health services they need.

WNTDD annually celebrated on Jan. 30, provides an opportunity to focus on the millions of people who have limited or no access to prevention, treatment and care services.

Ghebreyesus said the COVID-19 pandemic had thrust millions of people deeper into poverty and affected those who already have limited access to health services.

The day provides an opportunity to re-energize momentum to end the suffering from these 20 diseases that are caused by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.

WHO and other stakeholders fighting NTDs have been holding several events to mark it, which this year, coincides with World Leprosy Day.

“Progress achieved over the last decade is the result of the excellent public-private partnership with countries endemic for NTDs and the unfaltering support of partners who endorsed the London Declaration in 2012,” Dr Gautam Biswas, acting Director, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases said.

“It is exciting to see political will gearing up around the Kigali Declaration to achieve the new road map targets for 2030.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that NTDs are a diverse group of 20 conditions that are caused by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.

They can often result in devastating health, social and economic consequences, for more than one billion people worldwide.

The epidemiology of NTDs is complex and often related to environmental conditions.

Many of them are vector-borne, have animal reservoirs and are associated with complex life cycles, says WHO.

All these factors make their public-health control challenging.

NTDs are prevalent mainly in rural areas, in conflict zones and hard-to reach-regions.

They thrive in areas where access to clean water and sanitation is scarce – worsened by climate change.

By Cecilia Ologunagba

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