The World Health Organization (WHO) released a road map that outlines its strategic approach to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) – comprised of illnesses that affect over a billion people worldwide – in a mission to reduce the number of people in need of interventions against those diseases by 90% by 2030.
“In a climate where we are all being asked to do ‘more with less’, NTD programs constitute a practical commitment to addressing people’s health needs in the places where they live and work,” says Dr Mwele Malecela, Director, Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO. “The new NTD road map is a tool that has been developed in line with this; it sets out the scale of existing challenges and offers a blueprint that will enable us to ensure that all our efforts have the greatest possible impact.”
The strategy behind the road map is a united vision and a new way of working that encompasses three fundamental shifts. Firstly, accountability needs to be considered at all levels of the chain. Secondly, people and partners must work hand-in-hand. Thirdly, countries have to assume greater leadership and drive their own programs. Some NTDs are on their way to be eradicated, such as the Guinea Worm whose number of cases went from over 3.5 million cases in the mid-80s to only 56 in 2019.