SATURDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2016

New report details efforts to combat neglected tropical diseases worldwide

A new report from the Global Network identifies methods used by different countries to combat neglected tropical diseases that affect more than one billion of the world's poorest people.

The report details efforts in Burundi, India and Mexico to eliminate some of the 17 diseases identified as NTDs, including schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, intestinal worms, trachoma, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease.

In Burundi, parasitic infections in some areas affected more than 40 percent of the population in 2005. An alliance was formed in 2007 between the Global Network, Ministry of Health, CBM International, Geneva Global and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative to implement the nation's first mass drug administration.

Within the first year after the formation of the MDA, more than 1.8 million received medicine to treat the diseases, and after four years and eight MDAs, more than three million people had received treatments for the disease, bringing the rate of intestinal worm infections and schistosomiasis from 6.4 percent to 3.6 percent.

In India, to combat infections caused by intestinal worms, Deworm the World partnered with the Bihar State Departments of Health and Education to help the government map and treat intestinal worm infection across the region-one of the nation's poorest areas.

Deworming, through the partnership, was provided for 17 million school children in more than 67,000 schools in early 2011. Health workers and teachers helped to administer the medicine-the education system was "critical," according to the report, to making the program a success.

In Mexico's Chiapas region-one of the country's poorest states-an estimated 30 percent of residents live in remote settlements with little access to clean drinking water and sanitation, and more than 300,000 are at risk for NTD infection.

Under an initiative implemented by the Global Network, Inter-American Development Bank and Pan American Health Organization, prevention and control activities were carried out to treat more than 130,000 for NTDs.

The report said that public-private partnerships have helped to reduce the costs of treating NTDs and implementing public health programs to prevent the diseases.

"Successfully controlling and eliminating the most common NTDs requires a coordinated global effort, and ensuring that NTDs remain on the next agenda is a critical step," the report said. "The Global Network continues to urge government leaders to support the inclusion of health goals and targets for NTDs during member state negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda."