WHO Reports 'Remarkable' Progress After Decade Of Fighting Tropical Diseases

WHO Reports 'Remarkable' Progress After Decade Of Fighting Tropical Diseases

The announcement comes ahead of a World Health Organization conference in Geneva dedicated to neglected tropical diseases and their eradication.

Since 2007, when a group of global partners met to agree to tackle NTDs together, a variety of local and worldwide partners have worked alongside ministries of health in endemic countries to deliver quality-assured medicines, and provide people with care and long-term management. NTDs disable, debilitate and perpetuate cycles of poverty, keeping children out of school, parents out of work, and dampening hope of any chance of an economic future.

"Vector control, safe water and sanitation are key to control", said Dr Dirk Engels, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

She said a great deal has been achieved since Uganda started a program to control the disease in the early 1990s.

"WHO has observed record-breaking progress towards bringing ancient scourges like sleeping sickness and elephantiasis to their knees", said the organization's director-general, Dr. Margaret Chen.

"One billion people have been helped in 2015 alone... so, this is already a game-changer", she said.

Besides celebrating 10 years of multi-stakeholder collaboration, the event will also mark the 5th anniversary of the WHO NTD Roadmap which established targets and milestones for the global control, elimination, and eradication of many of these diseases as well as that of the London Declaration. That's down from almost 900,000 cases in 1989, when it was endemic in 21 countries.

While much has been done in the battle against NTDs, WHO cautioned that progress would stagnate without efforts to address broader poverty-related issues.

An estimated 2.4 billion people lack effective sanitation systems.

Parasitic flatworms called schistosomes cause Schistosomiasis, an NTD also known as snail fever and bilharzia.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said the joint approach will "build on the tremendous progress made to date". "But even when people feel sick it's not like malaria that really puts you down, so people feel lethargy, they'll feel some abdominal pain". "Some will take longer than that".

"You can not take more than three months before you start feeling that you are weak", Ogalla said. It will also dedicate £88m to research projects developing drugs and diagnostics. "That's their occupation, that's where they earn their living", he said. Despite this inconvenient, experts announced that people should not worry because it will not spread back again.

Still, a report released Wednesday says more still must be done. Yaws is a debilitating childhood infection that affected 46,000 people from 8 countries in 2015. "So here we could do a lot more and the main problem here is also access to medicines - access to affordable medicines", he said.

Research In addition to the spend on implementation outlined above, the United Kingdom will invest the following in research and development for new technologies to fight NTDS with allocations also from the Ross Fund portfolio: £48m to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, £30m to the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and £10m to the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is a major donor to research into tropical diseases, welcomed the announcement.

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