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Overcoming the Global Impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases

World Health Organization | February 2, 2012


The vision of controlling, eliminating and eradicating neglected tropical diseases has gathered significant momentum over recent years. The World Health Organization (WHO) has produced overwhelming evidence to show that the burden caused by many of the 17 diseases that affect more than 1 billion people worldwide can be effectively controlled and, in many cases, eliminated or even eradicated.

In 2003, WHO began to focus control measures away from specific diseases to the health needs of poor communities. This led to the introduction of two major strategic interventions:

• preventive chemotherapy, an intervention that allows the regular and coordinated administration of quality-assured, safe, single- dose medicines on a large scale for the following diseases: foodborne trematode infections, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases and trachoma;

• intensified disease management, directed at neglected tropical diseases for which simple tools and treatments are not yet available, such as Buruli ulcer, endemic treponematoses (yaws), leprosy (Hansen disease), Chagas disease, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), leishmaniasis, cysticercosis and echinococcosis.

Specific intervention approaches are required for dengue, dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) and human dog-mediated rabies. Other measures to support these interventions involve control of vectors and their intermediate hosts, veterinary public health, water and sanitation, health awareness and education, and capacity building. A turning point in efforts against these diseases was achieved after…

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