Geneva, Switzerland, May 22, 2017
Delegations from 194 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) convene in Geneva, Switzerland, this week to attend the 70th World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the WHO.
In her farewell address to World Health Assembly, Dr Margaret Chan, outgoing Director General of WHO, emphasized the importance of the 2nd Global Partners’ Meeting on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) hosted by the WHO on April 19, 2017. “Participants assessed, and celebrated, ten years of record-breaking progress that promises to eliminate many of these ancient diseases in the very near future. This is one of the most effective global partnerships, also with industry, in the modern history of public health”, Chan highlighted.
A wide range of high-level Member State delegates and representatives of NTD-related organizations attended the meeting. The GIZ Regional Fit for School Program was among the invited observers, recognizing a collaborative Memorandum of Understanding with the WHO West Pacific Regional Office in Manila.
Despite positive progress in many areas, it was emphasized that much needs to be done and more attention should be paid to all elements of the framework to combat NTDs including 1) preventive chemotherapy, 2) improved disease management, 3) vector control, 4) veterinary health, and 5) safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices (WASH).
Delegates urged not to forget Soil-transmitted Helminth (STH) infections which have the greatest share of disease burden among the NTDs; and to use schools as platforms for preventive mass-deworming while at the same time intensify efforts to improve WASH in Schools. The challenge of STH infections is that reinfection occurs rapidly after treatment if the general environmental hygiene and WASH are not addressed seriously. Schools were highlighted as ideal settings in setting models, creating local ownership and responsibility, and reaching a key target group for mass deworming.
During the meeting, the Director of NTD control of Lao PDR’s Ministry of Health highlighted the tremendous progress of the country in NTD control and the role of school-based deworming. Dr Maria Francia M. Laxamana, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health, Philippines, also alluded to the relevance of school-based deworming.
The current approach of the GIZ Fit for School Program, which supports school-based deworming based on WHO guidelines and the strategies of the respective national deworming programmes, seems highly pertinent and appropriate. In doing so, the programme and its underlying principles of simplicity, sustainability, scalability and systems thinking continue to provide innovative and pragmatic solutions to strengthen school-based deworming and to expand coverage within a key STH preventive target group.
Information on the NTD Partner’s Meeting:
The address by WHO Director General: