Neglected tropical diseases

Neglected zoonotic diseases

Rationale

Neglected zoonotic diseases are a subset of the neglected tropical diseases. Zoonoses are diseases that are 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.

Acknowledging that several zoonotic diseases merit attention,the NTD that are being targeted that are also zoonotic diseases are rabies, echinococcosis, taeniasis/cysticercosis, foodborne trematodiases, human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis and schistosomiasis.

There is growing evidence of the importance of zoonotic causes of non-malarial febrile illness and diseases as anthrax, brucellosis and leptospirosis.

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.

Mission

To reduce the burden of neglected zoonotic diseases on poor and marginalized populations in low-resource settings by advocating for and strengthening their prevention and control through effective collaboration with strategic partners and relevant sectors.

Approaches

Control of neglected zoonotic diseases calls for integrated interventions among human health, 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.
Objectives

The WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases has identified as priority neglected zoonotic diseases rabies, taeniasis/cysticercosis, echinococcosis and foodborne trematodiases. Other areas of work will be considered as they emerge and based on need.

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News highlights

03 July 2013 | Geneva | Geneva
Since 2004, efforts to break the cycle of rabies neglect and rabies is becoming recognized as a priority investment.
WHO Expert consultation on Rabies. Second Report. WHO Technical Report Series (TRS 982).

26 June 2013 | Geneva
Rabies vaccine bank in Kwa Zulu Natal to accelerate mass immunization of dogs

24 September 2012 | Geneva
Human dog-mediated-rabies: strengthening capacity and raising awareness are crucial for elimination