By Franca Ofili
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has highlighted the need for reflection on progress made and renewed commitment to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) globally and in Africa.
Moeti said this on Tuesday in her message to commemorate the 2024 World Neglected Tropical Diseases (WNTDs) Day with the theme “Unite. Act. Eliminate.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the purpose of the WNTDs Day is to raise the profile of neglected tropical diseases, the suffering they cause and to garner support toward their control, elimination and eradication, in line with the targets set out in the NTDs Road Map 2021 – 2030.
It is also aimed at raising commitments of the 2022 Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases.
WHO says NTDs are a group of preventable and treatable parasitic, viral, bacterial, fungal, and infectious diseases that affect more than one billion people globally.
The diseases, which cause devastating health and economic problems, yet are not as well-known as other harmful diseases, include Bruli Ulcer, Chagas Disease, Dengue Fever, Rabies, Noma Disease, among others.
The WHO director, therefore, pledged global progress toward eliminating these diseases, adding that the 2024 theme of the global observance called for collective efforts to address severe impact on the well-being and livelihoods of billions worldwide.
Moeti urged individuals and communities to take action by spreading awareness, advocating with those in power, and mobilising resources, saying that “the goal is to build a world where no one lives with river blindness, leprosy does not lead to societal shunning, and anemia from soil-transmitted worms does not debilitate individuals.”
She listed achievements toward eliminating the diseases to include the 18 million fewer people requiring interventions, 19 countries eliminating at least one NTD, and Togo’s historic elimination of four diseases: river blindness, elephantiasis, sleeping sickness, and guinea worm disease.
According to her, Yaws is also on the brink of elimination.
She said that public-private partnerships, contributions from non-governmental organisations, and the Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network, along with pharmaceutical donations have been key contributors to success.
According to her, research, development, and innovation play vital roles in enabling effective interventions.
“We need to unite, build new partnerships, ensure sustainable funding, and provide countries with resources to eliminate these ancient diseases,” she said.
Moeti also said that increased awareness led to better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention efforts, targeting vectors carrying NTDs.
“Yet, Africa still bears 40 per cent of the global burden of NTD cases”, Moeti said and stressed the need to maintain momentum and translate political commitment into transformative action.
She said “the Kigali Declaration call for high-level commitment and the launch of the Mwele Malacela Mentorship Programme for Women in NTDs underscore leadership role,” she said. (NAN)(www.nannnews.ng)
Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu