Finishing the task of eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in WHO South-East Asia Region: promises kept, challenges, and the way forward
Globally 20 Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are prioritized by World Health Organization (WHO), of which 15 are present in the South-East Asia Region (SEAR) with all 11 countries being affected. As the region bears 54% of the global burden, “Finishing the task of eliminating neglected tropical diseases and other diseases on the verge of elimination” was identified as a regional flagship priority in 2014 with focus on lymphatic filariasis (LF), kala-azar, yaws, trachoma, and leprosy. Intensified efforts have been made to raise and sustain political commitment and momentum among partners innovate tools, interventions and strategies to accelerate elimination, and establish the process and support countries to accelerate and validate achievement of elimination targets. Seven countries have verified or validated for having eliminated at least one NTD since 2016, including yaws, LF and trachoma. Between 2010 and 2020, the number of people requiring interventions against NTDs in the South-East Asia Region reduced by 20%. The priorities in the next decade are to strengthen last-mile efforts to eliminate identified NTDs, sustain it and to use the lessons learnt to eliminate other NTDs.