Posted on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 16:42

Progress made in combating tropical diseases

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there has been unprecedented progress in combating 17 neglected tropical diseases.


WHO attributed the achievement to a new global strategy, a regular supply of quality assured, cost-effective medicines and support from global partners.

The diseases include trachoma, Buruli ulcer, dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease), leprosy, dengue fever, rabies, endemic treponematoses (includes yaws), chagas and human African trypanosomiasis.

Others are leishmaniases, cysticercosis, hydatidosis, foodborne trematodiases, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, bilharzia, and soil-transmitted helminthiases.

"With this new phase in the control of these diseases, we are moving ahead towards achieving universal health coverage with essential interventions", WHO said in the report titled "Sustaining the Drive to Overcome the Global Impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases," released on Monday.

WHO said the new momentum had brought the world closer to the elimination of the most diseases that affect the poor mostly.

The United Nations body targeted guinea worm disease and yaws for global eradication, in 2015 and 2020 respectively.

It said donation of medicines and money by international partners had helped fast-track programmes to prevent the diseases.

Some of the initiatives included large scale delivery of safe, single-dose, quality-assured medicines for five worm diseases and trachoma (chlamydial infections).

"The challenge now is to strengthen capacity of national disease programmes in endemic countries and streamline supply chains to get the drugs to the people who need them, when they need them," said WHO director-General Margaret Chan.

In 2010 alone, WHO says 711 million people received treatment for at least one of the four diseases targeted for preventive treatment.

Over the next five years, WHO projects that treatment for bilharzia will reach 235 million people.

"The prospects for success have never been so strong," Chan said in the report.

"Many millions of people are being freed from the misery and disability that have kept populations mired in poverty, generation after generation, for centuries."

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