NTDs and Challenges of the COVID-19 Crisis
First virtual World Health Summit 2020
Berlin – 26.10.2020 The DNTDs workshop at the first virtual World Health Summit 2020 focused on the COVID 19 crisis and the effects on the measures to eradicate neglected tropical diseases. Dr. Mwele Malecela, WHO, Director of Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted advances in the eradication of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Implementation of NTD programs has been suspended following the initial WHO recommendations, but a differentiated decision-making framework for resumption of mass treatment and other NTD interventions is now in place. This means that the annual mass drug administration cycles have been interrupted, no monitoring and evaluation has been carried out, little to no operational research was implemented, work is slowly resuming. Dr. Johannes Waltz from Merck pointed out that if COVID-19 NTD interventions are disrupted for a longer period of time, the probability is high that the exposure to NTDs will increase again and long-term efforts will be lost. Dr. Irene Ayakaka from DAHW described for the East African region how the NTD community has adapted programs and guidelines, faced the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and continued on the path to eradicate NTDs. Makoy Yibi Logara, the NTD program coordinator for the country of South Sudan, emphasized that NTD programs offer unique platforms that reach all communities in their target areas, thus ensuring prevention and treatment, even for those who often do not have access to health care benefit the fight against COVID-19. Constanze Bönig then pointed out, how NTD control programs can be combined with the One Health approach and that the German government is building a new "One Health" focus in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, spokesman for the DNTD and director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the Bonn University Hospital and Dr. Dr. Carsten Köhler, Director of the Competence Center Tropical Medicine Baden-Württemberg, Institute for Tropical Medicine, Travel Medicine and Human Parasitology, University Hospital, Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen moderated the event.
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