FK-KMK UGM. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) set a target for global elimination of yaws, leprosy, filariasis, and most other Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) before 2020. However, three years later, those diseases were still often encountered in Indonesia and other tropical areas in Asia and Africa.
Prof. dr. William R. Faber, an expert of NTDs from Department of Dermatology Academic Medical Center (AMC), University of Amsterdam fulfilled the invitation from Department of Dermatology and Venereology, FK-KMK UGM in a guest lecture entitled “Neglected Tropical Skin Diseases” to explain more about the topic.
“These tropical diseases are considered neglected because they are exclusively suffered by ‘neglected’ people – the poorest people in the least developed areas,” said Prof. Faber while opening the guest lecture. The reciprocal relationship between the illness and poverty is what makes NTDs difficult to be eradicated in a short time.
According to the fourth WHO report on NTDs, there are five steps of intervention that can be carried out to reduce the prevalence of NTDs. The first is preventive chemotherapy, an intervention that is able to fight at least five diseases and is one of the most successful type of intervention in history. Not only preventive, the curative aspect in a form of disease management must be more innovative and intensive. Ecological vectors such as reservoirs also need special attention and veterinary public health services play in important role. Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) must not be neglected as they are important aspects in controlling NTDs.
The WHO booklet entitled “Recognizing NTD through Changes on the Skin” informs that skin has a major part in NTDs as the bacteria causing skin infections can be invasive and ultimately lead to autoimmune kidney or heart disease.
WHO has sought many strategies to control NTDs, such as the 2012 WHO Yaws Eradication and 2016-2020 WHO Global Leprosy Strategy. However, these strategies did not always happen as planned. The yaws eradication program was halted due to lack of funds, resulting in increased incidence of yaws. This means that the effort to abolish NTDs must not partially run and performed in a long run. “Because where the road ends, the yaw begins”, stated Prof. Faber.
To maintain the sustainability and to increase the success rate of their program, WHO attracts many organizations from all around the world to move together in eradicating NTDs. The “Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy” which consists of WHO, ILEP, IDEA, Sasakawa Foundation, and Novartis, commits to accelerate the eradication of leprosy by speeding up research, increasing innovation, and improving advocacy and fundraising.
In the future, NTDs should not be neglected anymore and experts from across the world may see them as a chance to conduct research, so that new useful innovations can be invented. (Elwina/Reporter_interpreted by Leo)