Neglected zoonotic diseases
Neglected zoonotic diseases are a subset of the neglected tropical diseases. Zoonoses are diseases naturally transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans and vice-versa. Their management needs integrated approaches and application of veterinary science, which are part of the NTD strategic approach to transmission control. The term “neglected” highlights that diseases affect mainly poor and marginalized populations in low-resource settings.
There is now recognition that several zoonotic diseases within the NTDs acknowledged merit attention, inclusive of: rabies, echinococcosis, taeniasis/cysticercosis, foodborne trematodiases, human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis. Zoonotic causes of non-malarial febrile illnesses and diseases such as anthrax, brucellosis and leptospirosis also have a growing body of evidence for their importance. Addressing this group of diseases requires collaborative, cross-sectoral efforts of human and animal health systems and a multidisciplinary approach that considers the complexities of the ecosystems where humans and animals coexist. Preventing and mitigating their occurrence in humans requires control and, where feasible, elimination of the diseases in their animal reservoirs.
To reduce the burden of neglected zoonotic diseases on poor and marginalized populations in low-resource settings by advocating for strengthening their prevention and control through effective collaboration with strategic partners and relevant sectors.
Control of neglected zoonotic diseases calls for integrated interventions among human and animal health, and other relevant sectors. WHO approaches to reducing their impact on people’s health and livelihoods include:
- Assessing local, regional and global societal burdens and the cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness of intervention strategies;
- Improving collaboration and raising awareness among governments, organizations and the wider stakeholder community engaged at the human–animal–ecosystems interface;
- Compiling evidence for the validation of tools and developing guidance for surveillance, prevention, control and treatment of specific diseases;
- Assisting countries in building and strengthening their capacity to apply and contextualize tools and implement integrated cost-effective strategies for prevention, control and treatment;
- Establishing or strengthening mechanisms for the exchange of information across relevant sectors and programmes in countries, in particular to bridge the gap between agriculture and health;
- Using evidence-based advocacy to leverage commitment and increase investments in prevention and control activities, capacity strengthening and applied research.
The WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases has identified priority neglected zoonotic diseases as rabies, taeniasis/cysticercosis, echinococcosis and foodborne trematodiases. Other areas of work will be considered as they emerge and based on need.