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Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

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January 31, 2023

Why in news?

According to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) disproportionately impact the most impoverished members of the international community.

What are Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)?

  • NTDs – Neglected tropical diseases are diseases which occur in the tropics, usually in the low middle income countries settings.
  • NTDs are neglected because they are
    • Almost absent from the global health agenda
    • Receive little funding
    • Associated with stigma and social exclusion
  • Reasons - Uncontrolled vector proliferation and lack of access to safe and clean drinking water are the major reasons.
  • List of NTDs - NTDs comprises of a group of 20 conditions mainly prevalent in tropical areas — caused by various pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi and toxins.
  • Effects - NTDs are known to cause permanent disabilities and impact the mental and emotional health and well-being of people.

neglected-tropical-diseases

What are the findings of the WHO report?

According to the official site of World Neglected Tropical Disease Day, 1 in 5 people worldwide are affected by NTDs.

  • WHO report - The Global report on neglected tropical diseases 2023 highlighted the advancement and challenges in delivering NTD care worldwide against a backdrop of COVID-19-related disruptions.
  • Challenges - Globally, nearly 1.65 billion people were estimated to require treatment for at least one NTD.
  • Due to the tremendous effects COVID-19, 34% fewer persons received treatment for NTDs between 2019 and 2020.
  • Accomplishments - More than one billion people were treated for NTDs annually between 2016 and 2019, thanks to mass treatment initiatives.
  • In 2021, 25% fewer people needed treatments against NTDs than in 2010.

What about India’s status in NTDs?

  • Status - Based on 2020 data, WHO states that half of the population in India has been affected by one of the NTDs
  • India has the highest burden in the world for Elephantiasis (Lymphatic Filariasis).
  • India has highest burden for intestinal worms (soil-transmitted helminths).
  • Accomplishments - India was the first country to end the epidemic of Yaws in 2015.
  • India also met national elimination targets for Leprosy in 2005.
  • It has made progress in elimination of Kala-Azar and Lymphatic Filariasis in endemic areas.

What steps were taken by the government to control NTDs?

  • The Government of India is committed to end NTDs in line with global elimination and control targets.
  • India is at the cusp of eliminating Kala-Azar, with 99% Kala-Azar endemic blocks having achieved the elimination target.
  • Preventive methods - Mass Drug Administration (MDA) rounds are periodically deployed in endemic areas and medicines are provided free-of-cost to at-risk communities.
  • Vector-control measures - Indoor Residual Spraying rounds are undertaken in endemic areas to prevent sandfly breeding.
  • The National Center for Vector Borne Diseases Control (NCVBDC) aims for the prevention and control of vector borne diseases namely Malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, Dengue, Chikungunya, Kala-azar and Lymphatic Filariasis.
  • Wage compensation - The government has introduced wage compensation schemes for those suffering from Kala-Azar and Post-Kala Azar Dermal Leishmaniasis.

What are the recommendations of the report?

  • Greater efforts and investments are required to reverse delays and accelerate progress towards the NTD road map targets by 2030.
  • WHO urged multi-sectoral collaboration and partnerships to achieve these targets.
  • WHO has launched an NTD channel with 36 training courses on 19 different topics for healthcare professionals.
  • An integrated approach in improving access to quality healthcare, water, sanitation, hygiene, addressing climate change and ensuring gender equity, mental health and well-being must lie at the core of eliminating the NTDs.

 

References

  1. Down to Earth | Neglected Tropical Diseases
  2. Down to Earth | Neglected Tropical Diseases Day
  3. NDTV | World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day 2023
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