NTDs cause the loss of 17 million healthy life years

12Oct 2020
Correspondent
The Guardian
NTDs cause the loss of 17 million healthy life years

​​​​​​​EVERY year Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) cause the loss of 17 million healthy life years (or disability free life years) of which 40 per cent is in Africa.

A report Reducing the burden of parasitic worms in sub-Saharan Africa released by the Economist Intelligence Unit, a research and analysis division of The Economist Group highlights.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that globally over 1.76 billion people still require interventions against NTDs.

Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (worm infections including round worm, whip worm and hook worm) are the most prevalent NTDs in sub-Saharan Africa.

The majority (86pc) of global schistosomiasis cases occur in sub-Saharan Africa, and 26 per cent of soil-transmitted helminthiasis cases.

The two diseases caused a loss of about 2.1 million healthy life years in 2017. The ill health caused by these diseases hampers adults' ability to work, and could adversely impact children's schooling, says the report.

The report that profiled Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe says eliminating morbidity and mortality from schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis in these four countries could boost their GDP by $5.1 billion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms by 2040.

In addition, there could be gains of $1.2bn (PPP) in income among school-age children in these countries over the same period once they enter the workforce, as the elimination of ill health associated with these diseases could improve their ability to learn and attend school.

These are likely gains Uganda could register with the elimination of schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis

In Uganda the common NTDs also include among other schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthes.

Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) is endemic in 38 of the 56 districts in the country. Both the intestinal and urinary forms of the disease exist in the country, however the intestinal form is more widespread than the urinary one which exists mainly in five districts.

Despite availability of effective tools and proven strategies for control of the two NTDs, until recently very little was being done for most of these diseases, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The most recent WHO roadmap for NTDs (2021-2030) sets targets for the elimination of both schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis as public health problems by 2030.

Once this is achieved, the countries will need to eliminate transmission to stop these diseases returning

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