Global Health Asia-Pacific Issue 2 | 2023 | Page 74


More countries achieved progress in eliminating neglected tropical diseases despite COVID-19 setback

Latest developments meet WHO roadmap goal
NTD caseloads continue to be borne by just a small number of countries , specifically developing nations and impoverished , conflict-ridden regions .

The World Health Organization ( WHO ) has reported significant progress in eradicating neglected tropical diseases ( NT� ) worldwide over the past decade . Referred to as �neglected� because they generally a�ict the world ’ s poor and receive relatively less attention , NT�s encompass a wide range of exotic sounding a�ictions such as dengue , leishmaniasis ( parasites from sandflies ), and trachoma ( blindness-causing bacteria ).

The WHO ’ s 2023 �lobal Report on Neglected Tropical �iseases , released in conjunction with World NT� �ay on January 30 , 2023 , outlines the achievements in reducing worldwide NT� prevalence despite the COVI�-1� pandemic . According to WHO �irector-�eneral �r Tedros Adhanom �hebreyesus , COVI�-1� severely disrupted supply chains for NT� medicines and health products , especially in lowand middle-income countries . �These disruptions jeopardised support for prompt diagnosis , treatment and care , as well as for the provision of essential interventions such as vector control and veterinary public health , which are the mainstay of NT� programme activities , � he said in a statement .
The report outlines the progress the WHO has made in its 2021 road map to control , eliminate , and eradicate most of these diseases by 2030 . One significant finding is that �7 countries had eliminated at least one NT� , with more countries progressing towards similar outcomes . Additionally , the number of individuals requiring NT�-related medical care dramatically dropped by �0 million between 2020 and 2021 . Still , over one billion people continue to be treated with NT� interventions through extensive public health campaigns .
NT� caseloads continue to be borne by just a small number of countries , specifically developing nations and impoverished , conflict-ridden regions . NT�s are common in tropical countries and disproportionately affect women and children . Most are transmitted by vectors , have animal reservoirs , and have complex life cycles . They adversely impact more than one billion people due to high death rates , social inequity , and economic hardship . However , various public health policies and initiatives by relevant stakeholders are bringing about positive changes in the fight against NT�s , the report states .
Significant regional progress in NTD elimination
Africa The WHO Regional Office in Africa reported that the continent had significantly reduced NT� cases . Only �02 cases of African sleeping sickness , or trypanosomiasis from the parasite of a Tsetse fly , were reported in 2021 , the lowest number in 50 years . �hana , �ambia , Malawi , and Togo are now certified free of trachoma ( an infection that can cause blindness ), with the latter two also eliminating lymphatic filariasis , a parasitic infection that causes severe swelling of the limbs . The continent primarily reported a decreasing prevalence of leprosy , Buruli ulcer ( bacterial infection often causing ulcers in the arms and legs ), and visceral leishmaniasis ( a parasitic infection that is often fatal if untreated ) between 2011 and 2021 . WHO has also developed a regional framework for snakebite envenoming aligned with its global strategy and the NT� road map .
In 2021 , four African countries reported fifteen cases of dracunculiasis , a rare water-borne disease caused by guinea worm infection , representing a �� percent decrease compared to 27 cases in 2020 . By the end of 2022 , the WHO certified that Congo had eliminated dracunculiasis transmission . Along with Cameroon and the Central African Republic , Congo also increased its efforts to eradicate yaws , a chronic skin infection , by administering the antibiotic a�ithromycin to the entire population .
The Americas NT� elimination efforts in the Americas are outlined in the Elimination Initiative , an integrated sustainable approach to disease management and strengthening the local health system for an NT�-free region . Various initiatives were rolled out in countries with high NT� prevalence , such as the trachoma elimination toolkit consisting of recommendations on trachoma response and serosurveillance of infectious diseases that involve blood testing for antibody levels against infection .
�uyana conducted a mass drug administration ( M�A ) of triple therapy I�A ( ivermectin -diethylcarbama�ine citrate- albenda�ole ), covering
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