THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Countries to heed WHO disease-control guidance

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Thursday it wants affected countries to increase their investment in treating 17 neglected tropical diseases, an action that could potentially improve the health and well-being of more than 1.5 billion people.

The investment would represent as little as 0.1 percent of troubled countries' current domestic health expenditures for 2015-2030.

“Increased investments by national governments can alleviate human misery, distribute economic gains more evenly and free masses of people long trapped in poverty,” WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said.

A recent WHO report states countries must make firm and sustainable budgetary commitments if they are to meet WHO targets and accelerate progress. An annual expenditure of $2.9 billion until 2020 is required to reach targets set in 2012 in the WHO Roadmap for 2015-2020, while from 2021-2030, the investment requirements will drop to $1.6 billion per year for a total investment of $34 billion, excluding the cost of donated medicine and other contributions. Annual investments will decrease as diseases are reduced or even eliminated.

Diseases spread by insects continue to multiply due to rapid and unplanned urbanization, population movement and environmental changes.
“Some of the neglected tropical diseases are no longer strictly tropical,” WHO Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases Department Director Dirk Engels said. “The potential for spread provides yet another strong argument for making the needed investments – while ramping up research and development efforts – to bring all these diseases under control and eliminate as many of them as rapidly as possible.”

More than 70 countries are already implementing plans for accelerated disease control.

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