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World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day

Context:

‘World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day’ is to be observed on 30th January as declared by the World Health Assembly.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)?
  2. Government’s efforts regarding NTD
  3. About the World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day declaration
  4. World Health Assembly (WHA)

What are Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD)?

  • Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)– a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions in 149 countries – affect more than one billion people and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year.
  • Populations living in poverty, without adequate sanitation and in close contact with infectious vectors and domestic animals and livestock are those worst affected.
  • Seven of the most common NTDs can be found in a number of countries—primarily in low- and middle-income countries of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
  • Controlling the vectors (e.g., mosquitoes, black flies) that transmit these diseases and improving basic water, sanitation, and hygiene are highly effective strategies against these NTDs.

The NTD Crisis

  • NTDs such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis and visceral leishmaniasis (Kala-Azar) afflict 1 billion people worldwide, and yet, are not prioritised in the public health narrative in many parts of the world.
  • India bears the largest burden of NTDs in the world, accounting for 40 per cent of the global lymphatic filariasis disease burden and almost a quarter of the world’s visceral leishmaniasis cases.

Government’s efforts regarding NTD

  • In recent years, the government has made concerted efforts to address the nation’s NTD burden, especially visceral leishmaniasis and lymphatic filariasis which were slated to be eliminated by 2020 and 2021 respectively.
  • India has already eliminated several other NTDs, including guinea worm, trachoma, and yaws.
  • Measures taken include Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis prevention in endemic districts and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) to control the breeding of sandflies that transmit visceral leishmaniasis.
  • The Accelerated Plan for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis (APELF) was launched in 2018, as part of intensifying efforts towards the elimination of NTDs.
  • A WHO-supported regional alliance established by the governments of India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in 2005 to expedite early diagnosis and treatment of the most vulnerable populations and improve disease surveillance and control of sandfly populations (Kala-azar).

About the World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day declaration

  • London Declaration on NTDs on 30th January, 2012 recognised the global burden of NTDs.
  • Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, representatives from leading global pharmaceutical companies as well as representatives of several national governments met at London’s Royal College of physicians to pledge to end the diseases.
  • The ongoing 74th World Health Assembly declared 30th January as ‘World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day. The first World NTD Day was celebrated informally in 2020.

World Health Assembly (WHA)

  • The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO.
  • It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board.
  • The Health Assembly is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland (sometimes in special sessions).
  • The main functions of the World Health Assembly are:
    1. To determine the policies of the Organization
    2. Appoint the Director-General
    3. Supervise financial policies
    4. Review and approve the proposed programme budget.
    5. Reporting to the Economic and Social Council in accordance with any agreement between the Organization and the United Nations.
  • The Health Assembly is composed of delegates representing Member States.
    • Each Member State is represented by not more than three delegates, one of whom is designated by the Member as chief delegate.
    • These delegates are chosen from among persons most qualified by their technical competence in the field of health, preferably representing the national health administration of the Member.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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October 2022
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