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On World Neglected Tropical Disease Day, WHO calls for more investment to meet 2030 targets

The World Health Organisation has called upon its member states and donors to enhance investments in Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), a group of infectious diseases in order to reverse the delays and accelerate progress towards the NTD road map targets by 2030.

On the occasion of World Neglected Tropical Disease Day, celebrated on January 30, 2023, the Global Health Body issued a report highlighting the progress and challenges in delivering NTD care worldwide against a backdrop of COVID19 related disruptions.

The report, titled “Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023”, notes that NTDs continue to disproportionately affect the poorest members of the global community, primarily in areas where water safety, sanitation and access to health care are inadequate.

The report further noted that although as many as 179 countries and territories reported at least one case of NTDs in 2021, 16 countries accounted for four-fifths (80%) of the global NTD burden.

The report further noted that this amounts to around 1.65 billion people who were estimated to require treatment for at least one NTD globally.

Pointing out that the number of people requiring NTD interventions fell by 80 million between 2020 and 2021, the report stated that as of December 2022, 47 countries had eliminated at least one NTD, and more countries were in the process of achieving this target.

“Around the world, millions of people have been liberated from the burden of neglected tropical diseases, which keep people trapped in cycles of poverty and stigma,” WHO DG, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.

Citing the report, the Chief of the UN Health Agency added, “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,” he further added.

Pointing out that the COVID pandemic has resulted in 34% fewer people receiving treatment for NTDs between 2019 and 2020, the report noted that even if a general resumption of activities enabled an 11% increase in recovery in 2021 when approximately 900 million people were treated.

“Promoting country ownership and accountability, as well as the sustainability and predictability of financing, including more robust domestic funding, are the key to achieving the NTD road map goals and enabling countries to deliver on their commitments to provide quality NTD services to affected populations,” the report noted.

“The WHO urges more partners and donors to come forward and fill existing gaps that hinder the full-scale implementation of NTD activities at global and local levels,” the Health Body said in a statement.

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