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NTD roadmap unveiled by WHO

yaws. Caption: Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled a 2021-30 neglected tropical disease (NTD) roadmap aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Secondary yaws ulcerative lesions. The WHO NTD roadmap seeks to eradicate yaws among other ambitious targets. Source: (September 2015). “Yaws.”. International journal of STD & AIDS 26 (10): 696-703. DOI:10.1177/0956462414549036. PMID 25193248

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) unveiled a 2021-30 neglected tropical disease (NTD) roadmap aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030 sets out global targets for 2030 and milestones to prevent, control, eliminate and eradicate a diverse set of twenty diseases and disease groups,” the WHO sets out in its executive summary of the NTD roadmap. The launch of the NTD roadmap took place on January 28th, in a high-level meeting that sought to promote the efforts of the WHO to realise NTD targets set out in the SDGs. Specifically, it seeks to effect

  • A ninety percent reduction in the number of people requiring treatment for NTDs and a 75 percent reduction in disability-adjusted life years linked to NTDs
  • Eradication of dracunculiasis and yaws
  • Elimination of at least one NTD in 100 countries

“Additionally,” the WHO outlines, “the roadmap will track 10 cross-cutting targets and disease specific targets that include a reduction by more than 75 percent in the number of deaths from vector-borne NTDs such as dengue, leishmaniasis and others, promote full access to basic water supply, sanitation and hygiene in areas endemic for NTDs and achieve greater improvement in collecting and reporting NTD data disaggregated by gender.” 

As noted by Health Issues India earlier this year, “many diseases, such as leprosy, are simply neglected with most individuals affected belonging to lower castes and viewed as outcasts from society — a view proliferative through thousands of years.” With this in mind, the “people-centred approach” extolled by the WHO is highly applicable to India – a country which remains afflicted by a range of NTDs from leprosy to lymphatic filariasis to leishmaniasis. 

“At its core, this roadmap aims to put people first. It involves working across sectors in delivering programmes for all the twenty NTDs and [promoting] equity and country ownership,” said Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, director of the WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. “To do so programmes have to be sustainable with measurable outcomes, backed by adequate domestic financing.”

The fight against NTDs is vital. The WHO’s NTD roadmap forms a basis for countries to act: building on existing progress and implementing new strategies. 

“If we are to end the scourge of neglected tropical diseases, we urgently need to do things differently,” said WHO-Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This means injecting new energy into our efforts and working together in new ways to get prevention and treatment for all these diseases, to everyone who needs it.”

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