Update to the World Health Organization’s Roadmap on Neglected Tropical Diseases
Parliamentary Evening with Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization
Berlin, 16 May 2019 – At the Parliamentary Evening on the World Health Organization and Neglected Tropical Diseases: New Alliances after 2020?, Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization (WHO), provided information on the status of the roadmap on neglected tropical diseases. It is currently being updated beyond 2020 and adapted to ensure that the target values pursued in the sustainable development objectives can be achieved. Dr Malecela invited the German stakeholders to take part in the commentary.
Andrea Spelberg, Head of Global Health at the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), provided assurances that the federal government will take part in the consultation process. The BMBF is taking the lead in the federal government when it comes to neglected tropical diseases. Ms Spelberg emphasized that there are hardly any other political fields where there is such effective coordination between the federal departments.
Heike Baehrens, a member of the German Parliament, Chair of the Global Health subcommittee and Deputy Chair of the Parliamentarian Board to Fight NTDs and Strengthen Health Systems, emphasized that she took the request to the federal government to take part in the roadmap commentary seriously. A lot could be achieved with a minimum of outlay by fighting neglected tropical diseases. Baehrens also said that she was delighted that Germany has taken the initiative by supporting ESPEN (Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Disease).
Dr Georg Kippels, a member of the German Parliament and Chair of the Parliamentarian Board to Fight NTDs and Strengthen Health Systems, explained that, thanks to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, neglected tropical diseases have become an important theme within the federal government. However, implementing the sustainable development objectives and the objectives of the London Declaration on the Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases is a Herculean task, which still requires a lot of work.
Prof. Achim Hörauf, Director of the Institute of Microbiology, Medical Immunology and Parasitology at the University Hospital Bonn and spokesperson for the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs), indicated that the new roadmap of the World Health Organization is changing focus slightly to concentrate on the patient and his/her rights. Using its technological capabilities, Germany could focus, in particular, on epidemiological monitoring and analysis of NTD prevalences and incidences. The successes achieved with mass treatment for affected population groups, in the case of river blindness or elephantiasis, for example, make it necessary to consolidate improvements in individual care and diagnostics. To this day, this monitoring poses a considerable challenge for the national healthcare systems. The number of people affected is often significantly greater than the number recorded by the current NTD elimination programs – this is true in the case of elephantiasis associated with lymphatic filariasis, for example. For people to be able to exercise their right to access health benefits (SDG 3 - good health and wellbeing) in the future, the corresponding benefits must also be provided in the countries in question; this will require more accurate figures in terms of frequency (prevalence).