Neglected tropical diseases

One year on and accelerating work to overcome neglected tropical diseases


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WHO has provided technical expertise to support pilot projects in eliminating human and canine rabies in KwaZulu Natal (South Africa), the United Republic of Tanzania and the Visayas archipelago in the Philippines. The projects aim to demonstrate that human rabies can be prevented in different settings by controlling the disease in dogs.

Preliminary results in June 2011 show that for the first time, zero cases of human rabies have been reported for 12 consecutive months. The number of human rabies cases is also decreasing in the western Visayas in the Philippines. Since the start of the project, more than 4 million doses of dog rabies vaccines have been provided to the three areas for mass vaccination of dogs. As part of the project, and for the first time in Africa, an economical regimen for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) has been introduced and incorporated into the Tanzania national PEP guidelines.

There is an increasing need for a greater involvement of public-health veterinarians at the animal–human interface as much of the morbidity and mortality resulting from neglected tropical diseases has a major zoonotic component. Veterinary Public Health (VPH) is supporting a paradigm shift in global approaches to the control of diseases originating at the animal–human interface, emphasizing control at the animal source.

In July 2011, WHO organized an interagency meeting with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health to define a “priority neglected zoonotic diseases investment portfolio” and formulate a roadmap to tackle them. The minimum investment required is estimated at US$ 20 million a year for the 5-year period 2012–2016.

WHO continues to advocate for the free and timely access to high-quality medicines and preventive diagnostic tools through an intersectoral, interprogrammatic approach and the consolidation of partnerships and resource mobilizations. It has all-along advocated for the donation of essential medicines to enable wider access to treatment for poor populations. Pharmaceutical companies responded favourably to the Director-General’s call for an increase in donations during the October 2010 launch of the report by making important pledges. We can now proudly say that almost all of these pledges have been confirmed. (See endnote)