‘Push­ing back ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases in Africa’

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

WASHINGTON

Us­ing com­mu­nity health sys­tems to de­liver treat­ments do­nated by the pri­vate sec­tor, over 80 mil­lion peo­ple a year are now pro­tected from river blind­ness in Africa. Fight­ing this disease, which causes much suf­fer­ing and even­tual loss of sight, was one of the World Bank's first ef­forts in health, to­gether with the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) and other part­ners.

River blind­ness, which gets its name from the way it is trans­mit­ted-through flies that breed near fast-flow­ing rivers-has been con­trolled in large parts of West Africa, al­low­ing fam­i­lies to re­turn to 25 mil­lion hectares of arable land, enough to grow crops to feed 17 mil­lion peo­ple. The disease has been elim­i­nated in sev­eral en­demic ar­eas, in­clud­ing trans­mis­sion zones in Sene­gal and some ar­eas of Mali, where pre­ven­tive med­i­ca­tion is now no longer re­quired. Hun­dreds of mil­lions of chil­dren and adults in Africa live at risk of dis­fig­ure­ment, im­paired devel­op­ment, blind­ness, and even death from seven ma­jor pre­ventable so-called ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases, in­clud­ing river blind­ness, ele­phan­ti­a­sis, tra- choma and var­i­ous types of in­testi­nal par­a­sites, said World Bank Pres­i­dent Jim Yong Kim at the open­ing of a Novem­ber 16-18 con­fer­ence in Washington DC: United to Com­bat NTDs: Trans­lat­ing the Lon­don Dec­la­ra­tion into Ac­tion. "It's not that th­ese dis­eases really have been ne­glected.

It's the peo­ple who suf­fer from them who have been ne­glected," Dr. Kim said. "Pro­tect­ing poor peo­ple from pre­ventable dis­eases that cause acute suf­fer­ing re­mains at the heart of our mis­sion to end poverty and boost shared pros­per­ity." Con­vened by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion, the US Agency for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment, the UK's De­part­ment for In­ter­na­tional Devel­op­ment, the World Bank, the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion and the Global Al­liance to Elim­i­nate Lym­phatic Fi­lar­i­sis (GAELF), the Washington con­fer­ence was a fol­low-up to a Lon­don meet­ing in Jan­uary 2012. At that meet­ing, the pri­vate sec­tor, civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions, devel­op­ment part­ners and health ex­perts agreed on a com­mon vi­sion to con­trol or elim­i­nate the world's 10 ma­jor pre­ventable ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases.

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