Thursday February 21, 2019

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

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)

Next Story

WHO Makes Progress In Controlling Ebola In Congo

In addition, 2,600 health care workers in Uganda have been vaccinated.

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Health workers treat an unconfirmed Ebola patient inside a MSF (Doctors Without Borders)-supported Ebola Treatment Center (ETC) in Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nov. 3, 2018. VOA

Six months after the outbreak of Ebola was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, the World Health Organization is expressing cautious optimism that it is making headway in controlling the spread of the deadly virus.

Latest figures reported by the WHO show 752 cases of Ebola, including 465 deaths.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, says progress in containing the spread of the virus is due to a number of public health measures, including the training of health workers on infection prevention and control, closer engagement with communities, case investigation and contact tracing.

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Medical staff are sterilized before entering the isolation unit at a hospital in Bundibugyo, western Uganda, on Aug. 17, 2018, where there is one suspected case of Ebola. VOA

She says the use of a vaccine and promising new drugs have been a boon to these efforts.

“I feel optimistic,” Moeti said. “I am very clear that we need to continue this work. We need to make sure that in the places where we have made progress, we build on this progress and we do not go back. And, we are being very, very conscious of the fact that we need to invest to improve the preparedness both in the DRC areas that are highest at risk and, most importantly, in the surrounding countries that are at risk.”

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Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) workers talk to a worker at an isolation facility, prepared to receive suspected Ebola cases, at the Mbandaka General Hospital, in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 20, 2018. VOA

The risk of the virus spreading to countries like Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan is very high because of the heavy cross-border traffic among the countries, Moeti said. However, she added, surveillance and preparedness activities have been enhanced on both sides of the border.

Also Read: WHO Calls for Accelerated Action To Eliminate Cervical Cancer

She says there is extensive monitoring at border crossings and improvements have been made in screening people for the virus. In addition, 2,600 health care workers in Uganda have been vaccinated. Moeti said a similar vaccination campaign began two days ago in South Sudan. (VOA)