WHO Recommends Water, Hygiene and Sanitation as the Only Way to Tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases


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World Health Organisation has recommended Safe Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as the only way to tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases.

WHO has inaugurated a global plan to effectively integrate WASH with other public health interactions with a view of eradicating the NTDs by 2020.

In a statement, WHO Director for Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, Dr. Maria Neira said: “Millions suffer from devastating WASH-related neglected tropical diseases – such as soil-transmitted helminthiasis, guinea-worm disease, trachoma and schistosomiasis – all of which affect mainly children.

“Solutions exist, such as access to safe water, managing human excreta, improving hygiene and enhancing targeted environmental management. Such improvements not only lead to improved health, but also reduce poverty.”

Director of the Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dr. Dirk Engels, added that “Joint planning, resourcing and delivery of WASH interventions are key to eliminating neglected tropical diseases and in achieving many public health and human development goal.

“The benefits are enormous – from alleviation of suffering through improved outcomes to healthier, wealthier and happier families, communities and nations.

“Besides advocating for basic water, sanitation and hygiene, WHO uses four other key interventions in overcoming the global burden of NTDs. The four strategies are preventive chemotherapy, innovative and intensified disease management, vector control and veterinary public health services.”

WHO estimates that more than 1 billion people in 149 countries suffer from NTDs. These diseases thrive in areas where there is lack of basic sanitation. About 2.4 billion people worldwide do not have adequate sanitation facilities, and 663 million do not have access to improved drinking water sources.

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