The World Health Organization (WHO) African Region is to set up a regional plan on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) for 2014-2020 to continue to accelerate the reduction of the disease burden by fighting and eradicating NTDs.
Director of the prevention and the fight against diseases at the WHO regional office in Brazzaville, Dr. Francis Kasolo, made the announcement Thursday on the sidelines of the ongoing 63rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa.
The Regional Strategic Plan will focus on four objectives which together can strengthen the programme’s ability to achieve the goals and objectives in the fight against NTDs.
The four objectives are: Increasing access to interventions and building health systems’ capacity, improving resource mobilisation and financial sustainability of national programmes in the fight against NTDs, strengthening advocacy, coordination and country ownership and enhancing monitoring, evaluation and control of research.
‘The objectives for 2020 include the eradication of dracunculiasis and yaws, the sustainable elimination of leprosy, elimination at the regional level of elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis) and blinding trachoma, the elimination of river blindness (onchocerciasis) and bilharzia (schistosomiasis) in most countries and the fight against Buruli ulcer, intestinal worms, sleeping sickness, rabies and leishmaniasis (a disease transmitted to humans by female sand fly),’ he said.
It is estimated that half of the burden of NTDs are in Africa and all 47 countries of the WHO African Region are endemic to at least one of the 17 NTDs listed by WHO.