By Francis Emorut and Tadeo Bwambale
Uganda is set to launch a master plan for elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) tomorrow (Friday) at Entebbe, the director general of health services, Dr. Ruth Aceng, has revealed.
Aceng pointed out that the Uganda master plan was finalized way back but has never been officially rolled out.
She was addressing delegates from the World Health Organisation (WHO) African region neglected tropical diseases programme managers meeting at Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe.
Aceng noted that one of the public health issues that have for a long time received insufficient attention is neglected tropical diseases.
More delegates at the conference. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
The NTDs include sleeping sickness, rabies and leishmaniasis and others.
Aceng told the WHO African region managers that in some cases children are either directly affected by the diseases or are made carriers of NTD victims and this affects their academic performance.
“Most NTDs cause disability and deformity and these lead to partial of complete dependence of victims on individuals resulting into community reduction in economic and agricultural productivity,” Aceng said.
She explained that the effects of NTDs have a direct cost on medical services and if not objectively tackled, they will keep society in a vicious circle of poverty.
Aceng also drew the attention of delegates from 35 African countries and development partners that it was a high time they focused on transmission control, morbidity management and intensified disease management rather than emphasis on prevent chemotherapy.
“It is time now to heavily invest in other measures such as improved sanitation, provision of adequate and clean water, health education and community sensitization,” she stated.
She appealed to development partners to consider funding the prevention and morbidity management of NTDs as well as intensified disease management.
Aceng called upon the WHO officials to ensure that NTDs are fully integrated in the public health systems.
She observed that to eliminate NTDs it will require a multi-sectoral approach including political will and bringing all stakeholders on board.
The WHO country representative for Uganda, Dr Wondimagnehu Alemu, reiterated Aceng’s concerns and said there was need to increase funding in the fight against NTDs in the areas of research and product/technology development.
He noted that African region bears 75% of the burden of NTDs globally adding that WHO global roadmap has been developed to eliminate NTDs by 2020.
“I would like to implore you to continue supporting countries and programmes so that NTDs are eliminated in Africa,” Alemu said.
The WHO NTD Regional Advisor, Dr Adiele Nkasiobi Onyeze noted that with the current global momentum toward the control of NTDs, many partners are seeking to support NTD programmes in African countries to scale up interventions.