Monday October 22, 2018

WHO calls for commitment, focused efforts to eradicate tropical diseases

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

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Ebola Not A Global Health Emergency: WHO

WHO advised DRC's nine neighboring countries that they were at high risk of having the disease spread into their territories

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An emergency committee convened by the World Health Organization has decided that the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO said Wednesday that 216 cases of Ebola and 139 deaths had been reported, and its International Health Regulations Emergency Committee said the outbreak was a matter of serious concern, especially since it is occurring in an area of conflict in eastern DRC. It said this posed problems for health workers who need to move around freely and track people who are infected with the virus and need treatment.

But the committee said that one reason it did not regard the outbreak as a global threat was that the virus had not spread into neighboring countries.

Congo,ebola
A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Committee Chairman Robert Steffan said the international response to the outbreak had been very good. He said WHO and other agencies had achieved quite a lot since the outbreak was declared Aug. 1. In fact, he said the disease was being brought under control in North Kivu province.

The disease is flaring up in another province, and the response is being concentrated in this area, he said, “so we do have some optimism that this outbreak, just like the one in May, will be brought under control within reasonable time.”

Steffan said the committee agreed that declaring an international emergency at this time would hinder efforts to contain the Ebola virus. He said a declaration would have implications for travel and trade, making it difficult for needed experts and supplies to access the affected areas.

Ebola, WHO
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

However, as a precaution, WHO recommended exit screenings, including at airports, ports and land crossings. But it noted that entry screenings, particularly in distant airports, would have no public health benefit and would be costly.

Also Read: North Kivu And Ituri, Congo To Welcome More Than 80,000 Children In This New School Year

WHO advised DRC’s nine neighboring countries that they were at high risk of having the disease spread into their territories, and it said it was supporting them with equipment and personnel. It said these preparedness activities were expensive and would require substantial financial support from the international community. (VOA)

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