WHO Report: 1.65bn Persons Require Treatment for Tropical Diseases Globally

•Lagos assesses prevalence in 20 LGAs

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja and Segun

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said an estimated 1.65 billion people required treatment for at least one Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) globally.

This was disclosed in a new progress report, entitled, “Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023,” issued yesterday by WHO highlighting the progress and challenges in delivering NTD care worldwide, amidst COVID-19-related disruptions.

It showed that NTDs continued to disproportionately affect the poorest members of the global community, primarily in areas of poor water safety, sanitation and access to health care.

It stated: “Although as many as 179 countries and territories reported at least one case of NTDs in 2021, 16 countries accounted for 80 per cent of the global NTD burden.

“Around 1.65 billion people were estimated to require treatment for at least one NTD, globally.”

The new progress report showed that the number of people requiring NTD interventions fell by 80 million between 2020 and 2021, and eight countries were certified or validated as having eliminated one NTD in 2022 alone.

The report stated that although more countries have eliminated NTDs, there was need for investments to sustain the progress.

WHO also stated that as of December 2022, 47 countries had eliminated at least one NTD and more countries were in the process of achieving this target.

It stated that accomplishments made between 2021 and 2022 were built on a decade of significant progress.

Speaking on the report, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated: “In 2021, 25 per cent fewer people required interventions against NTDs than in 2010, and more than one billion people were treated for NTDs each year between 2016 and 2019 through mass treatment interventions.

“Around the world, millions of people have been liberated from the burden of neglected tropical diseases, which keep people trapped in cycles of poverty and stigma.

“But as this progress report shows, we still have a lot of work to do. The good news is, we have the tools and the know-how not just to save lives and prevent suffering, but to free entire communities and countries of these diseases. It’s time to act now, act together, and invest in NTDs.”

The report also noted the significant impact of COVID-19 had on community-based interventions and on access to health facilities, as well as on supply chains for healthcare products.

It noted that COVID-19 led to 34 per cent fewer people receiving treatment for NTDs between 2019 and 2020, even if a general resumption of activities enabled a 11 per cent increase in recovery in 2021, when approximately 900 million people were treated.

Meanwhile, Lagos State government said it has concluded plans to conduct assessment of the prevalence of some NTDs including Lymphatic Filariasis and Onchocerciasis in the 20 local government areas of the state.

The State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi who disclosed this after an awareness walk organised by the Ministry of Health and a non-governmental organisation, Mission to Save the Helpless (MITOSATH) to commemorate the Year 2023 World NTD Day in Lagos State, explained that the assessment would lead to targeted treatments in line with WHO’s elimination road map.

Abayomi, who was represented by the Director Epidemiology, Biosecurity and Global Health, Dr. Ismail Abdus-Salam stated that WHO recognises 30th of January every year as World NTD Day because of the impact of NTDs and the growing concern of its burden of risk on national and global economies over the past few decades.

“Neglected Tropical Diseases are a group of conditions that affect more than a billion people who mostly live in marginalised, rural, poor urban areas and conflict zones. Although they are preventable and treatable, these diseases and their intricate interrelationships with poverty and ecological systems continue to cause devastating health, social and economic consequences.

“True to the name, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) seldom receive the attention they warrant. In order to end this neglect, the 74th World Health Assembly declared January 30th as ‘World

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