WHO reports significant progress in battling tropical diseases

Thursday, January 17, 2013
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Geneva: A report launched yesterday (16 January) by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, showed that a new momentum in controlling, eliminating and eradicating some of the longest-term scourges faced by humankind that take their greatest toll among the poor, moving the world closer to the elimination of many of them.

Dengue, leprosy, river blindness and guinea-worm disease are among the 17 now targeted by a new global strategy, supported by worldwide partners, that provides a steady supply of quality medications.

At a press briefing launching the report, Lorenzo Savioli, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at WHO said that the report showed evidence that over 700 millions treatments were delivered regularly, every year to people in need, to the poorest people in the poorest section on the world.

According to the report, two diseases are targeted for global eradication, dracunculiasis, or guinea-worm disease – which can produce a parasite as long as two or three feet – by 2015, and yaws, which attacks skin, bone and cartilage, by 2020.  Targets are set for the regional elimination of several other diseases in 2015 and in 2020.

Saviolo said that Africa - - in terms of individual more than one disease  --  was "by far" the continent where the numbers of people infected was the highest. But in terms of numbers, Asia is where the burden of tropical diseases was the highest.

In 2010 alone, 711 million people received treatment for at least one of four target diseases, including lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases, the report said.

And when it comes to Dengue, Saviolo said that the disease was "increasing globally", and that there was a significant spread linked to climate change, as well as increasing transport around the world. He added that "we see outbreaks of not just Dengue itself but also of such as Arbovirus also in Europe".

Other targeted diseases include rabies, trachoma, buruli ulcer, chagas disease, human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniases, taenaisis/cysticercosis, echinococcosis/hydatidosis, foodborne trematodiases and lymphatic filariasis, the WHO report said. -UNifeed
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