The World Health Organization has officially launched its new road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030.
The road map, endorsed by World Health Assembly Member States in November 2020, proposes ambitious targets and innovative approaches to tackle 20 diseases which affect more than one billion people globally.
Speaking at the virtual launch event on 28 January 2021 to celebrate the release of the road map, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, emphasised the importance of the paradigm shifts of the new road map, centred on accountability, cross-sectoral partnerships and impact orientated programmes with equity and country ownership at its core, in order to achieve the targets, set in the road map. Dr Tedros also addressed the overlap between development priorities and the broader benefits of achieving NTD targets, saying “NTDs are a challenge for countries, but they are also an opportunity to address the health inequalities that undermine economic and development progress.”
“NTDs are a challenge for countries, but they are also an opportunity to address the health inequalities that undermine economic and development progress.”
The launch of the road map follows a significant consultation with WHO member states and global neglected tropical disease (NTD) stakeholders. NTD targets include
- 90% fewer people requiring interventions against NTDs
- 75% fewer NTD-related disability adjusted life years
- 100 countries to have eliminated at least one NTD
- 2 NTDs eradicated (dracunculiasis and yaws)
The road map also includes a range of cross cutting targets including 100% access to at least basic water supply, sanitation and hygiene in areas endemic for NTDs, which is aligned with targets 6.1 and 6.2 of Sustainable Development Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation.
In a video statement, Scott McPherson, Chair of the International Coalition for Trachoma Control applauded the new road map, saying “the International Coalition for Trachoma Control celebrates the launch of the new WHO NTD road map. The trachoma community has demonstrated what can be achieved through comprehensive cross-sectoral programmes with a 91% reduction in the number of people at risk of trachoma since 2002 and 10 countries being validated for eliminating trachoma as a public health problem across all WHO-endemic regions.”
“Collaboration between health, WASH, education and so many other sectors is crucial to achieving and sustaining targets as well as advancing our contribution to building resilient health systems”
“Collaboration between health, WASH, education and so many other sectors is crucial to achieving and sustaining targets as well as advancing our contribution to building resilient health systems. ICTC is committed to delivering the new road map, and supporting increased accountability, community empowerment and cross-sector collaborations to achieve our shared vision of a world free of NTDs.”
Progress towards the elimination of trachoma as a public health problem is recognised in the new road map, which targets the disease for global elimination by 2030, in line with Sustainable Development Goal target 3.3. The road map recommends increased cross-sectoral action to scale up all components of the WHO-endorsed SAFE strategy, emphasising the importance of collaboration with WASH stakeholders to implement facial cleanliness and environmental interventions, as well as action to address disability and rehabilitation.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption to NTD programs globally. The new road map for NTDs will be a critical resource to mitigate the challenges presented by the pandemic and to accelerate and sustain progress while strengthening the capacity of health systems to respond to health crises. The International Coalition for Trachoma Control stands ready to support endemic countries to implement the new road map through comprehensive cross-sectoral and people-centred approaches that leave no one behind.