13 million people are at risk of being affected by a Neglected Tropical Disease Like Leprosy.

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Minister of Health Sylvia T Masebo has revealed that in Zambia more than thirteen (13) million people are at risk of being affected by a Neglected Tropical Disease including leprosy.

Speaking to a stakeholders Consultative Meeting on the commemoration of the; World Leprosy Day which fell on 29th January; Ms. Masebo said despite having achieved the elimination target of 1 Leprosy case per 10,000 population in the year 2000, Leprosy remains an important public health problem in Zambia and globally.

The Chongwe Member of Parliament said the Ministry of Health is committed to strengthening efforts and creating an enabling environment for accelerating the implementation of NTDs and Leprosy programmes within the country

“The Ministry of Health is committed to strengthening efforts and creating an enabling environment for accelerating the implementation of NTDs and Leprosy programmes within the Country. This meeting brings together various stakeholders that focus on preventive chemotherapy for some NTDs, such as lymphatic filariasis also called (elephantiasis) or LF, soil-transmitted helminthiasis or (worms), bilharzia, and trachoma. In addition, we have stakeholders that deal with innovative and intensified disease management of targeted NTDs, including human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) and leprosy. Therefore, my hope is that this meeting will provide new insights on how we can all work together and contribute to harmonizing efforts to speed up the elimination and eradication of targeted NTDs in Zambia.As you are aware, NTDs affect mainly poor people living in rural communities and until recently, received little attention. For many of these diseases, simple, safe and low-cost interventions are available and can be delivered to affected people and communities. More than one billion people worldwide are affected by NTDs and the WHO African region is home to about half of the global burden of NTDs. In Zambia, more than thirteen (13) million people are at risk of being affected by a Neglected tropical disease including Leprosy. Despite having achieved the elimination target of 1 Leprosy case per 10,000 population in the year 2000, Leprosy remains an important public health problem in Zambia and globally as well,” Ms. Masebo said.

She highlighted the impact of Neglected Tropical Disease that includes leprosy.

“NTDs disfigure, disable, and account for an estimated half a billion annual deaths globally. Mothers and children, who are infested with worms develop anaemia and other complications as the disease progresses. Some children drop out of school to take care of their parents who are disabled by NTDs such as trachoma and LF. This often results in little or no education for these children, a situation that perpetuates the cycle of poverty for families. Leprosy remains associated with images of mutilation, rejection, and exclusion from society. These illnesses have been ignored for far too long, so it is encouraging to see that nations in our region and the world at large are working together to combat them and improve the lives of millions of people who are afflicted by NTDs.This years’ theme “Act now. Act together. Invest in neglected tropical diseases. End Leprosy” is timely because the World Health Organization and individual countries have recognized that Neglected Tropical Diseases are a global public health problem that needs all to invest in if they are to be eliminated by 2030.”

She announced steps being taken by the New Dawn government to address Neglected Tropical Diseases.

“Mapping of all the Neglected Tropical Diseases found in Zambia. Development of the NTD Master Plan which is aligned to the World Health Organization Road Map 2030 on eliminating NTDs. The NTD Masterplan is aimed at guiding the implementation of NTD programmes in the country. Conducted four to five rounds of mass drug administration’s for just a few Neglected Tropical Diseases to stop the transmission and this has made Zambia to be on the path to eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases such as Trachoma and LF. We have also conducted impact and coverage surveys after each mass drug administration to determine the level of infection. And have conducted Pre-Transmission Assessment Survey for LF in 80 districts across the country and planned to further conduct the Transmission Assessment survey in 96 districts. Currently, due to the progress made in the pharmaceutical sector, there are drugs that are available for the prevention and treatment of NTDs. The Government is committed to eliminating NTDS and has planned to invest in the control and elimination of these diseases. Our aspiration is to ensure that treatment is available, affordable, accessible, and equitably shared to those populations in greatest need,” Ms. Masebo stated.

The Minister of Health called on all stakeholders to make serious efforts to integrate NTD programmes and interventions, for more efficient and effective action, and acceleration of progress.

“To achieve this, we need sustainable financing for NTDs. Investing in NTDs is a global health and development success story. So far, 46 countries have eliminated an NTD, showing progress is possible. In 2020, 600 million fewer people required interventions against NTDs than in 2010. Yet, for some time, a lack of resources has been seen as a significant barrier to the control, elimination, and eradication of NTDs. This challenge has only been intensified by COVID-19 which has caused severe delays and disruption to NTD programmes, as well as a massive repurposing and diversion of resources.As recommended in the WHO case for investment in NTDs, concerted action and sustainable financing for NTDs is needed to ensure we have sufficient resources to achieve the targets in the WHO 2030 NTD road map. That is why, together and united, we will make the case for investment, and push for concerted action and financing of NTDs.”

“I urge all stakeholders gathered here to make serious efforts to integrate NTD programmes and interventions, for more efficient and effective action, and acceleration of progress. Our efforts would be helped by improved coordination of all NTD stakeholders in the country. During this meeting, let us deliberate on innovative and effective coordination mechanisms that can improve synergies, reduce transaction costs for all and assure better results and impact. I call on the Ministry of Health to take the lead to ensure that all stakeholders in the country have a stake in the Masterplan that we will be launching today. Stakeholders should contribute to the development or updating and evaluation of the plan and make use of it as the basis for planning and implementing NTD programme interventions. In addition, we should strengthen the use of the NTDs Masterplan as a tool for mobilizing in-country resources for NTD programmes. These need to be effectively linked to national health development plans and financing mechanisms. NTDs must take their proper and visible place within national health priorities and related decision-making mechanisms; we as NTD and health development stakeholders need to work towards that,” Ms. Masebo concluded.

6 COMMENTS

  1. What a load of rubbish! 13 million Zambians at risk of Leprosy? Why not talk about malnutrition? Most Zambians are malnourished. They think being fat like Kambwili is a sign of good health. Look are all the ministers, all clinically obese. The women are worse! Walk the street of Lusaka and look at the women, all you see are heads attached to buttocks. Seriously, Iam not joking!

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