Stakeholders deliberate on eliminating NTDs in W/A

A high-level stakeholder meeting to build synergies on accelerating efforts towards eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the West Af­rican sub-region opened in Accra yesterday.

Organised by the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), the three-day meeting drew par­ticipants at the helm of govern­ment, development partners, the scientific community, academia and civil society to discuss prog­ress on the 2030 roadmap for NTDs.

It was on the theme; “Leaving no one behind; integrated and multi-sectoral approaches to free Africa of all NTDs by the year 2030.”

Addressing the conference on behalf of the WAHO Direc­tor-General, the NTDs focal person, William Kofi Bosu, indi­cated that the impact of NTDs on health, livelihoods and the sub-regional development could not be over-emphasised.

“These diseases affect about 1.7 billion people in the world, which is one-sixth of the global population and they are poverty defining, it further deepens the problem of inequality.

At this stage of our national development we cannot have dis­eases like these that are prevent­able affecting a huge number of our people,” he said.

Mr Bosu said although, some level of progress had been attained in the sub-region in eradicating NTDs, interventions were isolated and that retarded collective success.

“Only about 55 per cent of the 372 million who are estimated to need treatment are actually receiv­ing treatment. We need the politi­cal will, ensure that our Ministers commit to integrating NTDs in the national health agenda and share experiences to scale up the tools that we know works to meet the 2030 goal,” he said.

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu in a speech read on his behalf noted that Gha­na was still endemic for several NTDs despite modest success chalked with the elimination of conditions like trachoma in 2018.

He mentioned some of the challenges in the NTDs fight as domestic financing, integrated approaches and multi-sectoral collaborations as well as low com­munity acceptance and participa­tion in control and elimination interventions.

“For instance, in 2020, only about half of the 17.2 million people in Ghana needing treat­ment for at least one of the five NTDs received treatment,” he said.

To address the challenge, Mr Agyeman-Manu, said the Health Ministry had initiated strategic partnership, collaboration and de­velopment of the universal health coverage (UHC) roadmap which is underpinned by principles of human rights, equity, gender and people-centred approaches to promote general healthcare.

“Its main elements are ensur­ing financial risk protection and so increasing access to primary healthcare services. The causes of NTDs were multi-sectoral and re­quired multi-sector interventions to tackle them,” he said.

In 2021, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched a new roadmap for the prevention, control, elimination and eradica­tion of a diverse set of 20 NTDs as a public health problem.

NTDs are a diverse group of conditions found in tropical and sub-tropical settings across 149 countries.

In Africa alone, NTDs cause an estimated 200,000 deaths per year with populations living in poverty, without sufficient access to clean water and adequate sanitation in­frastructure and who live in close contact with infectious vectors, domestic animals and livestock, are the most affected.

All countries on the region are endemic for at least one of the following; elephantiasis, blinding trachoma, intestinal worms, bil­harzia and river blindness.


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