The World Health Organization is stepping up efforts to accelerate the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTD) in the African Region.
Health experts, donors, development partners and affected countries have reached a consensus on the main components of the framework for establishing a new NTD entity. This entity will support and guide affected countries in the African region to accelerate the implementation of actions required to eliminate NTDs by 2020.
“The new NTD entity needs to be cost efficient, cross-cutting with other NTD interventions and with a stronger link with stakeholders and actors in order to achieve the set targets in 2020,” stated Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
The WHO African Region faces a huge burden of neglected tropical diseases which affects millions of people who are impoverished. The region carries half of the global burden of NTDs. The move to establish a new entity arises from the current global and regional commitment from donors, pharmaceutical companies, countries and other partners to accelerate the elimination of NTDs.
The new NTD entity will also facilitate the smooth transition of technical support to affected countries as the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) closes on 31 December, 2015. APOC was established in 1995 to tackle river blindness. Over the past 20 years, the work of APOC has made commendable progress in tackling river blindness (Onchocerciasis) in most affected communities.
The new NTD entity focuses on the five diseases (elephantiasis, river blindness, trachoma, bilharzia and intestinal worms) that can be treated with mass drug administration. Its operations will build on the experience gained in recent years in tackling NTDs.