United Kingdom doubles its aid for neglected tropical diseases

United Kingdom doubles its aid for neglected tropical diseases

United Kingdom doubles its aid for neglected tropical diseases

Enormous progress has been made in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) over the past decade, with more than a billion people receiving treatment for various conditions in 2015 alone, according to a new report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report documented one billion people treated for at least one neglected tropical disease in 2015 alone as one of key achievements against NTDs.

The class of these illnesses include diseases such as dengue, rabies, trachoma, Buruli ulcer, yaws, leprosy, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease), schistosomiasis (larval worm infection) etc.

Only 25 cases of Guinea-worm disease were reported in six countries past year, "putting eradication within reach", the World Health Organization says. Nevertheless, researchers' work is harder to be developed in South Sudan.

Such transformational progress was the result of one of the most effective partnerships in global health, the WHO said.

They are all infectious diseases that occur in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries of the world.

The funding programme is expected to wipe out the parasitic disease visceral leishmaniasis in Asia, eliminate Guinea worm and save hundreds of thousands of people from blindness and other disabilities.

Margaret Chan, director general of the World Health Organization, called this a game-changing event, noting that drug donations amounted to $20 billion to $30 billion a year.

Since then, more than 550 million people have received preventive treatment for elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis) and well over 110 million treatments were distributed for river blindness (onchocerciasis), while only 25 human cases of Guinea worm disease were reported in 2016.

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Mr Gates said the summit was an opportunity to hail the "huge" progress made against NTDs in the last five years, and said the United Kingdom had been a "very critical, and very generous" contributor to that.

Drugs companies now have 109 research and development projects for medicines or vaccines for NTDs, which typically take 10-15 years to develop, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA) said.

Sue Desmond-Hellmann, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: "It's delightful to see that the London Declaration of 2012 is bringing attention to focus".

Desmond-Hellmann said she was particularly impressed by the innovation shown to reach remote communities.

"None of these diseases are getting worse".

"Sanofi expects to file approval for the pill for Africa sleeping sickness by the end of the year". These research programmes will support the development of drugs and diagnostics for Neglected Tropical Diseases and provide evidence to improve the delivery of NTD programmes.

In addition to medical interventions, the WHO also recommends three "supportive interventions", said Engels: vector (carrier of disease) control, veterinary public health, and provision of water and sanitation.

Visceral leishmaniasis: in 2015 the target for elimination was achieved in 82% of sub-districts in India, 97% of sub-districts in Bangladesh, and in 100% of districts in Nepal.

The UN agency says it has been working with pharmaceutical companies and nongovernmental organisations to fight illnesses such as trachoma, a bacterial disease that is the world's main cause of blindness from infection.

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