WHO urges billions to fight neglected tropical diseases

WHO urges billions to fight neglected tropical diseases

The World Health Organization on Thursday urged countries to invest billions of dollars to tackle 17 neglected tropical diseases — including dengue fever, leprosy and sleeping sickness — which kill 500,000 people globally each year.

WHO said some 1.5 billion people across 149 countries are affected by the diseases, insisting additional investments would save lives, prevent disability, end suffering and improve productivity.

“Increased investments by national governments can alleviate human misery, distribute economic gains more evenly and free masses of people long trapped in poverty,” WHO Director General Margaret Chan said.

Dirk Engels, who heads the WHO department of control of neglected tropical diseases, told reporters in Geneva that Africa is the “continent where the most absolute number of these diseases occur,” with many people suffering from more than one of them.

He said some 450 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of contracting these diseases.

But the diseases also hit people across Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia, and can even appear in European countries, Japan and the United States, the WHO said (…)

AFP