Investing in Neglected Tropical Diseases will take more than foreign aid

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A young girl in Kaduna state, Nigeria, carries water from a river known to be infested with flies that cause river blindness. Photo: IRIN/Kate Holt

While some progress has been made to combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, more people need access to preventative care and treatments, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

These diseases include leprosy, river blindness, and elephantiasis, and thrive mainly among the poorest populations.

WHO is launching a new report on Thursday which makes the case for increased domestic investment to fight the 17 diseases it prioritizes.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

Each year, WHO measures how countries are progressing to control or eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases, which are endemic in 149 countries.

Its findings are being presented in a new report called "investing to overcome the global impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases".

This year, the focus is on what it will take to meet targets set for 2020 and 2030.

Dirk Engel, Director of WHO's Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, said an additional 750 million US dollars per year until 2020 is needed to support 1.5 billion people.

That money, he added, cannot only come from foreign aid.

” If we meet our 2020 targets, the number of people that will require intervention is expected to progressively decline from the 1.5 billion to about 200 million in 2030. With the current trend in development, it would be logic and we anticipate that there will be a need for increased commitment by developing nations and a progressive shift towards mobilization of their own resources.

As a result of investing more in people's health, Dr Engel said the annual cost of fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases will decrease by threefold.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’24″

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