THE World Health Organisation says investment is key in tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) across globe.
WHO stated this in a new report titled “Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023.”
The report says timely investment in NTD will help the global community to effectively mitigate the impact of the diseases.
The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, said that around the world, millions of people had been liberated from the burden of NTD, which kept people trapped in cycles of poverty and stigma.
“But as this progress report shows, we still have a lot of work to do.
“The good news is, we have the tools and the know-how not just to save lives and prevent suffering, but to free entire communities and countries of these diseases.
“It’s time to act now, act together, and invest in NTDs,” Ghebreyesus said.
He said that the report also noted the significant impact of COVID-19 on community-based interventions and on access to health facilities, and on supply chains for healthcare products.
“This led to 34 per cent fewer people receiving treatment for NTDs between 2019 and 2020, even if a general resumption of activities enabled an 11 per cent increase in recovery in 2021, when approximately 900 million people were treated,” he said.
The WHO boss said the new report emphasised that more investments was required to reverse delays and accelerate progress towards the NTD road map targets by 2030.
He said promoting country ownership and accountability, as well as the sustainability and predictability of financing, including more robust domestic funding, are key to achieving the NTD road map goals.
According to him, it will enable countries to deliver on their commitments to provide quality NTD services to affected populations.
He said that multi-sectoral collaboration and partnerships are vital to make this happen.
He said that last week, WHO and Gilead Sciences signed a new agreement for the donation of 304 700 vials of AmBisome (liposomal amphotericin B for injection) for the treatment of visceral leishmaniasis in countries most impacted by the disease.
According to him, the new three-year collaboration is estimated at 11.3 million dollars and also makes provision for financial support to WHO.
He said that WHO urged more partners and donors to fill existing gaps that hinder the full-scale implementation of NTD activities at global and local levels.
“Later this week, the 152nd session of the WHO Executive Board will consider admitting the Carter Center into official relations with WHO.
“WHO’s NTD work in 2021 and 2022 resulted in over 100 scientific guidelines, tools and other information products, to assist the global NTD community including countries in need.
“The Open WHO platform started an NTD channel offering 36 training courses for health workers on 19 separate subjects,” Ghebreyesus said.
He said that WHO continued to evaluate and approve new medicines to treat NTDs, and worked steadfastly to ensure equity and human rights in all NTD service delivery.
According to him, the World NTD Day under the theme “Act now. Act together. Invest in NTD”, is calling on everybody to confront the inequalities that drive NTDs.
This, he said, would make bold, sustainable investments to free the world’s most vulnerable communities affected by NTDs.
”It’s time to act now, act together, and invest in NTDs,” Ghebreyesus said.
According to WHO, NTDs has continued to disproportionately affect the poorest members of the global community, primarily in areas where water safety, sanitation and access to health care are inadequate.
It said although as many as 179 countries and territories reported at least one case of NTD in 2021, 16 countries accounted for 80 per cent of the global NTD burden.
“Around 1.65 billion people were estimated to require treatment for at least one NTD globally,” it said.
It said that the new progress report showed that the number of people requiring NTD interventions fell by 80 million between 2020 and 2021.
This means that eight countries were certified or validated as having eliminated one NTD in 2022 alone.
It said that as of December 2022, 47 countries had eliminated at least one NTD and more countries were in the process of achieving this target.
“Accomplishments made in 2021-2022 build on a decade of significant progress.
“In 2021, 25 per cent fewer people required interventions against NTDs than in 2010, and more than one billion people were treated for NTDs each year between 2016 and 2019 through mass treatment interventions.(NAN)