The World Health Organisation (WHO) says about one billion people received treatments for at least one Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) in 2015.

WHO said in its fourth report on NTDs that there has been transformational progress against debilitating diseases and a commitment by the United Kingdom to double its funding for NTDs.

It said significant gains have been recorded so far in relieving symptoms and consequences of diseases for which effective tools are scarce.

According to the report, important reductions have been achieved in the number of new cases of sleeping sickness, visceral leishmaniasis in South-East Asia and also of Buruli ulcer.

“WHO has released data showing medicines to prevent NTDs reach nearly a billion people every year.

“Leaders from governments, pharmaceutical companies and charitable organisations convened at a five-day summit in Geneva to pledge new commitments to the collective efforts to control and eliminate NTDs.

“The meeting comes five years after the launch of the London declaration on NTDs, a commitment by the public and private sectors to achieve the WHO goals for control, elimination and eradication of 10 NTDs.

“In that time, billions of treatments have been donated by pharmaceutical companies and delivered to impoverished communities in nearly 150 countries, reaching nearly a billion people in 2015,” the report said.

It described NTDs as some of the oldest and most painful diseases afflicting the world’s poorest communities, stating that one in six people suffered from NTDs worldwide including more than half a billion children.

According to the report, NTDs debilitate and perpetuate cycles of poverty, keeping children out of school, parents out of work and dampening hope of any chance of an economic future.

However, it said that more people were being reached with needed NTDs intervention than ever before delivered through five public health approaches.

“This include innovative and intensified disease management, preventive chemotherapy, vector ecology and management, veterinary public health services, provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene,’’ it said.

The fourth WHO report on neglected tropical diseases aims at evaluating the changing global public health landscape and assessing progress towards the 2020 targets.

The report also considers the possible core elements of a strategic vision to integrating neglected tropical diseases into the 2030 Agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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