Topic of the Day – Neglected Tropical Disease
Around the globe, almost 1.6 billion individuals are affected by a clutch of diseases so unnoticed that the word used to refer to them is neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
What is Neglected Tropical Disease?
- These are a group of 17 diseases disturbing the poorest people living in the least developed pockets of the world.
India & NTD:
While some of these NTD maladies might be new, leprosy, kala-azar and filariasis are better known in India and being focused for disposal sooner rather than later. A sickness is considered ‘eliminated’ when the predominance rate is less than 1 case for every 10,000-populace estimate.
The Indian government has set itself the target of eliminating kala-azar and filariasis by 2017, and leprosy by 2018. With such ambitious targets, sustained research must remain an integral component of disease elimination programs.
What should be India’s Strategy?
To eliminate leprosy, India needs to tackle the stigma associated with the disease. It leads to delays in diagnosis and treatment, which in turn result in continued transmission of infection within families and communities. In 2015-16, 118 districts in India were endemic for leprosy with a prevalence rate of more than 1 per 10,000.
At the same time, it is important to maintain constant vigilance through robust surveillance and reporting mechanisms.
Partnerships with diverse stakeholders including the private sector, community-based organizations, and community leaders are specifically useful in creating awareness, improving case detection, treatment completion and, most importantly, managing stigma associated with these diseases.
While tackling NTDs, it will be important to remember that along with timely diagnosis and treatment access in unreached areas, focusing on the fundamentals of preventive interventions, nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are essential in fast-tracking the ultimate goal of elimination.