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WHO cautions on re-emerging infectious diseases

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By Chioma Obinna

The World Health Organisation,WHO, has warned the world of transboundary nature of diseases and infections even as she said the current global outbreak of diseases like Ebola, Zika and Yellow Fever has revealed a dramatic resurgence of new threats from emerging and reemerging infectious diseases the world is not prepared to cope with.

Prof. Isaac Adewole, Health Minister
Prof. Isaac Adewole, Health Minister

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Folorunso Adewole has called on African Ministers of Health to unite against Neglected Tropical Disease, NTDs, by including them in their Health Agenda, and ensure that they are no longer neglected. The duo spoke at the ongoing World Health Assembly, WHA, in Geneva.

Giving the warning in her address at the ongoing 69th World Health Assembly, WHA, in Geneva, the Director General, WHO, Dr. Margaret Chan, said good health is key to the attainment of any developmental efforts.

Highlighting the “slow motion” disasters of a changing climate, antimicrobial resistance and the rise of chronic noncommunicable diseases like cancer, heart and lung disease, and diabetes, Chan said:

“Unchecked, these slow-motion disasters will eventually reach a tipping point where the harm done is irreversible.  The 2030 agenda for sustainable development, however, aims to avert such disasters, inspiring “optimism and hope”. Chan explained emphasized that health plays a central role of health in the new agenda, and that universal health coverage will be key to achieving health-related targets, adding that

Universal health coverage

“Universal health coverage is the target that underpins all others. It is the ultimate expression of fairness that leaves no one behind.”

In a related development, the Minister of health, Prof. Isaac Adewole while speaking during the launching of the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, ESPEN, by the World Health Organisation, WHO, Regional Office for Africa, AFRO, at the World Health Assembly, urged African Ministers of Health to unite against Neglected Tropical Disease, NTDs, by including them in their Health Agenda, and ensure that they are no longer neglected.

ESPEN, which is a new partnership to help African Countries reduce the burden of NTDs, will provide national NTDs with technical and fundraising support to help them control and eliminate NTDs.

The Minister who also enjoined them to create awareness around them, further announced plans by Nigeria to situate NTDs within the Primary Health Centres currently being revitalised in the country in order to provide Universal Health Coverage to Nigerians. Continuing, he explained that NTDs is a disease of the poor and such efforts at reducing the burden must include poverty reduction.

While acknowledging the dwindling resources globally, he encouraged his colleagues to look into the limited available resources and re prioritize its activities, work at getting better value for it and make more money available to the programme through prudent allocation of funds to all health related activities.

The NTDs are a group of infections that place a constant and heavy burden primarily on the poorest, most vulnerable communities in the world most of which are located in Africa. These diseases are onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and trachoma. It is estimated that more than one billion people including more than 500million children are affected by NTDs.

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