According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics more than 1 billion of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations are affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
One of the five main strategies being used to eradicate these diseases is through proper and safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
WHO recently announced that it is toughening up on WASH, a strategy that encourages good health and safe hygiene, eventually combating 16 of the 17 neglected tropical diseases.
“NTDs thrive under conditions of poverty and filth. They tend to cluster together in places where housing is substandard, drinking water is unsafe, sanitation is poor, access to health care is limited or non-existent, and insect vectors are constant household and agricultural companions,” said Director General of WHO, Margaret Chan.
“This opens opportunities for integrated approaches, for simplification, cost-effectiveness, and streamlined efficiency,” she added.
The strategy entitled ‘Water Sanitation and Hygiene for Accelerating and Sustaining Progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases, A global strategy 2015-2020’ focuses on getting people who work on boosting WASH and others who work to eliminate NTDs together, to work towards the roadmap target.
The idea is to increase awareness of the benefits, based on shared experiences;ing tracking the strategy’s progress and look at what better ways effective progress can be implemented to eradicate NTDs.
WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, Dr Maria Neira, said “solutions exist, such as access to safe water, managing human excreta, improving hygiene, and enhancing targeted environmental management. Such improvements not only lead to improved health, but also reduce poverty.”
Other approaches to combat NTDs by 2020 are: prevent chemotherapy; innovative and intensified disease management; and zoonotic disease management.