Neglected tropical diseases: World Health Assembly endorses bold new road map targets for 2030

Press Release • 12 November 2020

Today, delegates attending the virtual session of the Seventy-third World Health Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed the new road map for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) for 2021−2030.

Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021–2030 sets out global targets and actions to align and re-focus the work of countries, partners and stakeholders during the next decade, including cross-cutting targets aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.  

Several countries and non-state actors spoke of the importance of tackling NTDs, strengthening public health care and of expressed their support for the new road map.

We now have the consensus and the commitment of every country to work in an integrated, cross-cutting manner in tackling all the neglected tropical diseases” said Dr Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for Universal Health Coverage, Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases. “To do so effectively, and as drivers and beneficiaries, countries must change their operating models and culture to facilitate greater ownership of programmes. Smarter investments and high-level political commitment are required to reduce the social impact and economic consequences imposed by these diseases.”

The road map, developed through an extensive global consultation, encourages a fundamental shift in approach from vertical disease programmes to cross-cutting approaches based on the needs of patients and communities.

The new road map addresses critical gaps across multiple diseases, integrates and mainstreams approaches within national health systems and coordinates action across sectors,” said Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. “It also provides us with opportunities to evaluate, assess and adjust programmatic actions as needed over the next decade.”

2030 road map targets

The road map sets global targets and milestones to prevent, control, eliminate and eradicate 20 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and disease groups. By shifting away from single-disease vertical programmes to integrated approaches, it aims to promote improved coordination and collaboration. Another distinct feature is to drive greater ownership by national and local governments, including communities. The overarching 2030 global targets of the road map are to:

  • reduce by 90% the number of people requiring treatment for NTDs
  • enable at least 100 countries to have eliminated at least one NTD
  • eradicate two diseases (dracunculiasis and yaws)
  • reduce by 75% the disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) related to NTDs

The road map’s cross-cutting and other targets can be consulted here.

The new road map replaces the first one published in 2012 and despite progress over the past eight years, many of the targets will not be achieved. The new road map will advance the NTD agenda, with opportunities to stimulate efforts through comprehensive approaches that require multisectoral collaboration.

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