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Improved responses needed for neglected tropical diseases

Friday January 29th 2021

Patients with neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) need better access to diagnosis and to safe, effective treatment, a new report has said.

Overcoming Neglect: Finding ways to manage and control neglected tropical diseases by Médecins Sans Frontières calls for an improved global response to NTDs, such as kala azar (visceral leishmaniasis), Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) and sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), to prevent further deaths and disability.

Dr Christos Christou, MSF's international president, said: "NTDs almost exclusively affect people living in extreme poverty. As a result, there are no vaccines, diagnostic tools are limited, and treatments are often unavailable or unaffordable for many of these deadly and debilitating diseases."

MSF says WHO's launch of a new road map for NTDs for 2021 - 2030 presents an opportunity to support the development of treatments, vaccines, and diagnostic tools for NTDs, and has ambitious targets to eliminate at least one NTD in 100 countries and reducing by 90% the number of people needing medical interventions for them by 2030.

But Dr Christou warns NTD programmes have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and that fragile health systems are under even further strain. There are indications that resources for NTDs will be diverted and funding reduced, which could mean the significant achievements of the past years could be reversed.

"Although equitable access to Covid-19 innovations is unsure, the world is mobilising to develop vaccines, treatments, and diagnostic tests," he said.

"The same can be done for NTDs. We can overcome the neglect with commitments, funds and better tools to find, diagnose and treat patients. We can make NTDs diseases of the past."

Tags: Africa | Flu & Viruses | World Health

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