Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is a group of 20 diseases largely common in middle and low-income countries of the Global South.
Worldwide, more than 1.7 billion people are affected or threatened by NTDs with about 150,000 fatalities recorded annually. In Nigeria, about 100m people in the country are at risk for at least one NTD, bearing around 25% of Africa’s burden. These diseases are Leprosy, Trachoma, Buruli ulcer, Human African trypanosomiasis, Dengue fever, Schistosomiasis, Yaws, Lymphatic filariasis, Onchocerciasis, and Soil-transmitted helminths among others.
Overall, the prevalence of NTDs stems from poverty, one of the reasons it is called a disease of poverty. They are widespread where people have no access to clean water, sanitary facilities, and hygiene knowledge and materials (WASH) and where there is a lack or no access to medical care.
Road to 2030
In November 2020 at the 73rd meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA), the 2021-2030 roadmap was adopted, and on 28th January 2021, it was launched, ushering in a new era. This new roadmap, titled ‘Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a roadmap for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030,’ sets global goals and a call to action to prevent, control, eliminate, and eradicate this set of 20 diseases. The goals are:
- Elimination of at least one NTD in 100 countries
- A 90% reduction in the number of people requiring treatment for NTDs
- A 75% reduction in the disability-adjusted life years related to NTDs
- Eradicating two diseases: dracunculiasis (Guinea worm disease) and Yaws (a chronic skin disease).
Nevertheless, we can’t wish away the huge progress that has been made since the 2012 London Declaration where organizations and governments pledged to work together to control and eliminate at least, 10 NTDs. The impact has been enormous, around 500 million fewer people are at risk of NTDs and 42 countries have eliminated at least one NTD. But our world is changing at a fast pace, new challenges abound, and the need for more collective action is paramount.
RedAid Nigeria has joined in this global effort to beat NTDs in Nigeria, bridge the inequality to health care and break this vicious circle of poverty. It is our mandate to ensure no one is left behind and that we #EndTheNeglect.