Neglected tropical diseases

“Unprecedented force” characterizes global drive against neglected tropical diseases

21 May 2012 | Geneva
A technical briefing on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has called for tighter cooperation to sustain the remarkable progress achieved in their control, prevention and elimination.

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO and Professor Thérèse N’Dri-Yoman, President of the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly.

Closer collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and stakeholders, partners and the pharmaceutical industry has provided an historic opportunity to reduce the suffering imposed by these diseases on mostly poor people worldwide.

Speaking to a packed conference room at the Palais des Nations, Professor Thérèse N’Dri-Yoman, chairperson of the technical briefing and the newly elected president of the World Health Assembly (WHO’s governing body), described the “unprecedented force” that now exists among the international health community to overcome the global impact of NTDs.

Delegates of six Member States – Brazil (Dr Jarbas Barbosa da Silva), Italy (Professor Renato Balduzzi), the Republic of Korea (Dr Byung-Guk Yang), the United Republic of Tanzania (Dr Mwele Ntuli Malecela), the United Kingdom (Professor Alan Fenwick), and the United States of America (Dr Ariel Pablos-Méndez) – participating in the technical briefing noted the progress being made by their countries in combating NTDs and called for further cooperation, which is critical to ensure continued progress in areas such as expanding preventive chemotherapy, intensifying case detection and case management and improving vector control.

A number of speakers highlighted that the largest burden of NTDs is borne by poverty-stricken areas, and that measures to improve general hygiene must remain an important component of any health response.

Italy reminded the audience that, with climate change and increased global travel, European countries also now face the threat of NTDs.

The technical briefing – Sustaining the drive to overcome the global impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases – was held on the first day of the Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, and was organized by the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The aim was to provide Member States with an overview of progress being made in the fight against NTDs worldwide and to provide an opportunity for participants to be fully briefed on the proposed plans for implementing the WHO NTD roadmap – Accelerating Work to Overcome the Global Impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases - a roadmap for Implementation – launched by the Director-General in January 2012.

Neglected tropical diseases

Neglected tropical diseases are a diverse group of mainly 17 diseases that blight the lives of more than a billion people worldwide.

They are found mainly among the poorest populations of the world.

A turning point in efforts against these diseases was achieved after the first Global Partners’ Meeting convened by WHO in 2007, resulting in a shared commitment to support WHO’s strategies, goals and targets. These have yielded significant gains for public health, including scale up of control and elimination programmes, and enhanced access to medicines.

During the past six years, hundreds of millions of people, living mostly in poor and marginalized regions, have benefited from these interventions.

During the past six years, hundreds of millions of people, living mostly in poor and marginalized regions, have benefitted from these interventions.