Progress report on elimination of neglected tropical diseases

WHO Bulletin publishes review

TDR news item
4 March 2010

Profile view of a teenage boy suffering from visceral leishmaniasis at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Holland clinic at Umkara. The boy exhibits splenomegaly, distended abdomen and severe muscle wasting.
WHO/TDR/Crump
Profile view of a teenage boy suffering from visceral leishmaniasis at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Holland clinic at Umkara. The boy exhibits splenomegaly, distended abdomen and severe muscle wasting.

GENEVA – The Bulletin of the World Health Organization has released a new review of the policy rationale for neglected tropical disease control in the WHO South-East Asia Region, the progress made so far, lessons learnt along the way, and the remaining challenges to complete eradication.

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect the very poor, pose a major public health problem in South-East Asia. Although more than a dozen NTDs affect the region, four in particular – leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) and yaws – have been targeted for elimination. The World Health Assembly and the WHO Regional Committee, through a series of resolutions, have expressed regional and global commitments for the elimination of these diseases as public health problems. TDR's research toward these elimination campaigns is noted in this article (see links on right).

These four diseases were selected for a number of reasons. Firstly, they affect this region disproportionately. For example, every year around 67% of all new leprosy cases and 60% of all new cases of visceral leishmaniasis worldwide occur in countries of the region, where as many as 850 million inhabitants are also at risk of contracting lymphatic filariasis. Several epidemiological, technological and historical factors that are unique to the region make each of these diseases open to elimination. Available tools and interventions to achieve these targets have proven effective, and are expected to lead to success.

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