WHO calls for commitment, focused efforts to eradicate tropical diseases

Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of WHO South-East Asia. Photo Credit: www.searo.who.int

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

New Delhi: The World Health Organization has given call on Thursday to work towards eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTD) like kala-azar, leprosy, yaws, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis that affects the people of South-East Asia.

who.siWhile speaking at a meeting of health ministers and health ministry officials from the 11 member countries in Dili in Timor-Leste, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of WHO South-East Asia, said: “Though called neglected diseases, these are diseases of the people who are neglected, the poorest of the poor. Strong political commitments and renewed and focused efforts centered on the affected population are needed to control, eliminate, and eradicate these diseases.”

Regarding the elimination of these NTDs, Singh added: “Stronger surveillance for early detection, appropriate treatment for prevention and cure of all the affected and at-risk population is the mainstay of the NTD elimination strategies.”

NTDs are serious diseases that may disable, disfigure, or even cause deaths of the affected people. Though considerable progress has been made with respect to diseases like leprosy, they are still endemic in South-East Asian countries.

Around 155,000 cases of leprosy were reported in the region in 2013 which was around 73% of the global cases. India alone reported 126,000 cases of leprosy in 2013. Similarly, the South-East Asia region reports 10,000 new cases of kala-azar every year. The disease is endemic in parts of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

The situation is similar in the case of lymphatic filariasis as well. Around 60 million people in the region are affected by the disease, which accounts for around 50% of the global cases.

(With inputs from IANS)