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LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 173-175

Recommending measures to address the public health concern of neglected tropical diseases


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication30-Sep-2015

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: Nil., Conflict of Interest: There are no conflicts of interest


DOI: 10.4103/2394-7438.166300

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Recommending measures to address the public health concern of neglected tropical diseases. MAMC J Med Sci 2015;1:173-5

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Recommending measures to address the public health concern of neglected tropical diseases. MAMC J Med Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2019 Jun 18];1:173-5. Available from: http://www.mamcjms.in/text.asp?2015/1/3/173/166300



Sir,

The menace of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affects the lives of more than 1.5 million poor and marginalized individuals every year on a global scale.[1] The NTDs comprise of 17 different diseases caused by a diverse range of pathogens, which not only have different vectors, intermediate hosts, and modes of transmission, but even have specific ecological characteristics.[2] These NTDs have a wide geographical distribution and are generally being associated with poverty.[1],[3],[4]

Most of the NTDs (such as chagas disease, echinococcosis, rabies, and cysticercosis), except yaws, have been linked with neurological complications, and often result in blindness, disfigurement, disability or even mortality.[5] This not only negatively impacts the quality of life of affected persons, their families, but even, casts a significant financial burden on the community, and nation's health care delivery system.[1],[5] Owing to its enormous magnitude, especially in terms of millions of people affected or threatened with the NTDs, a large number of nations are struggling to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.[3]

A wide gamut of potential risk factors/challenges, such as low recognition or prioritization by the policy makers; environmental degradation and presence of a climate which can facilitate the rapid growth of pathogens; poverty; illiteracy; minimal awareness among the general population about NTDs; and minimal use of footwear have been identified.[1],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] In addition, factors like poor access to the health centers; resource constraints (viz. limited support for performing appropriate laboratory investigations, shortage of medicines, vacant posts); untrained health professionals, especially regarding the diagnosis and case management; absence of follow-up or community-based activities; poor infrastructure support; and minimal efforts to ensure active surveillance for NTDs have also played a significant role in augmenting the incidence of NTDs.[1],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] Furthermore, other facts like no mechanism to ensure comprehensive assessment / compilation of data on NTDs; absence of any strategy to systematically assess and evaluate the impact of public health interventions for NTDs; limited financial assistance to the developing nations; and lack of coordination between different stakeholders or even nations have also been linked with the rising trends of the NTDs worldwide.[1],[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9] In the current era, where health professionals and international agencies aim for sustainable development and accomplishment of universal health coverage, it is really disappointing that the regions, which are affected by NTDs have failed to achieve even basic health coverage and are still fighting for financial prosperity.[1] It is very important to realize that significant and sustained reduction in the incidence of NTDs cannot be obtained unless measures are taken to address the concerns of social and health inequities.[1],[10] Acknowledging the impact of NTDs on multiple dimensions of health and on the development of a country, the World Health Organization has advocated for a minimum of 80% coverage for essential health services and to ensure 100% financial protection from out of pocket payments for health services, by the year 2030.[1]

In order to reach the proposed targets by 2030, it is very essential that nations should have an ownership for prevention, control, elimination, and eradication programs; effectively plan for long term financial support to ensure capacity building and strengthening of existing resources; facilitate strategic integration of the disease specific control programs in the primary healthcare; and implement measures to maintain universal access to interventions.[1] Furthermore, a team of qualified and committed public health professionals can be created which will then work exclusively for addressing the NTDs by building a network comprising of not only public health sector, but even private sector, voluntary agencies, etc., so that the services reach in even the remotest areas. This team should be supported in every aspect, in terms of resources, manpower, external reviews to ensure their smooth functioning. In addition, strategies such as creating awareness among the masses; roping in more of domestic resources; measures for vector control; encouraging pooling of resources and taking joint efforts for diseases which have similar modes of transmission; developing maps to assess the distribution of NTDs; advocating use of sensitive diagnostic tools; establishing a comprehensive surveillance mechanism to obtain a precise estimate about the NTDs; and facilitating international collaboration to successfully counter the cross border NTDs.[1],[6],[7],[9] All these interventions should be developed and implemented with poor people and those who need it the most, being the center stage.[4] Finally, owing to the dedicated response from the policy makers and support from the international health agencies, nations such as Ghana (declared as free from dracunculiasis), and Yemen (schistosomiasis and filariasis), have been successful in eliminating some of the NTDs.[11], [13]

The NTDs are a global public health concern, which generally cast a significant impact on the poorest sections of the society, especially residing in rural areas. It is high time that policy makers, representatives from international agencies, and other stakeholders sit together and work out strategies to ensure elimination of the NTDs from the endemic regions.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest

 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Investing to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases - Third WHO Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases. Geneva: WHO Press; 2015.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. Neglected Tropical Diseases - Fact Sheets Relating to NTD; 2015. Available from: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/mediacentre/factsheet/en/. [Last accessed on 2015 May 15].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Nelson R. Neglected tropical diseases take hold in the USA. Lancet Infect Dis 2014;14:1050 1.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Hotez PJ, Bottazzi ME, Dumonteil E, Buekens P. The Gulf of Mexico: A "hot zone" for neglected tropical diseases? PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2015;9:e0003481.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Berkowitz AL, Raibagkar P, Pritt BS, Mateen FJ. Neurologic manifestations of the neglected tropical diseases. J Neurol Sci 2015;349:20 32  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Flueckiger RM, Nikolay B, Gelderblom HC, Smith JL, Haddad D, Tack W, et al. Integrating data and resources on neglected tropical diseases for better planning: The NTD mapping tool (NTDmap.org). PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2015;9:e0003400  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Bergquist R, Yang GJ, Knopp S, Utzinger J, Tanner M. Surveillance and response: Tools and approaches for the elimination stage of neglected tropical diseases. Acta Trop 2015;141(Pt B):229 34.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
World Health Organization. Single repository to bolster storage and exchange of NTD data; 2014. Available from: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/ntd_data_single_repository/en/. [Last accessed on 2015 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Tomczyk S, Deribe K, Brooker SJ, Clark H, Rafique K, Knopp S, et al. Association between footwear use and neglected tropical diseases: A systematic review and meta analysis. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2014;8:e3285.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Lee BY, Bartsch SM, Gorham KM. Economic and financial evaluation of neglected tropical diseases. Adv Parasitol 2015;87:329 417.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
World Health Organization. WHO Certifies Ghana Free of Dracunculiasis; 2015. Available from: ://www.who.int/dracunculiasis/Ghana_free_of_dracunculiasis/en/http. [Last accessed on 2015 May 08].  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
World Health Organization. Yemen Poised to Eliminate Two Debilitating Neglected tropical diseases in 2015; 2015. Available from: http://www.who.int/neglected_diseases/elimination_2_ntds_yemen_2015/en/. [Last accessed on 2015 May 11].  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Baring E, Hotez PJ. Yemen: Fighting neglected tropical diseases against all odds. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2014;8:e3292.  Back to cited text no. 13
    




 

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