Improving the Health and Wellbeing of People Living with Neglected Tropical Diseases through Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect more than one billion people worldwide, including children, and young women and men in their prime working age.
NTDs are intimately linked to poverty and affect some of the world’s most marginalized communities, predominantly in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
If not diagnosed and treated early, many NTDs can lead to long-term disability, mental health conditions and stigmatization; examples of such NTDs include Buruli ulcer, cutaneous leishmaniasis, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, mycetoma, onchocerciasis, snakebite envenoming and trachoma.
Rehabilitation and assistive technology are essential health services and required to achieve Universal Health Coverage. They improve the health, well-being, everyday functioning and societal participation of persons living with NTDs. However, most people with NTDs in need of rehabilitation and assistive technology do not have access to them.
Access to rehabilitation and assistive technology is underpinned by its availability at all levels of healthcare and health workers having the necessary competence, guidance and resources to deliver this care. In many NTD endemic countries, there are significant service gaps that need to be addressed, particularly at the primary healthcare and community level.
Adopting a comprehensive and integrated approach to NTDs care that includes the provision of rehabilitation and assistive technology, engaging with people living with NTDs, and building partnerships and collaboration across various sectors is key to ensuring persons living with NTDs live healthy, productive and dignified lives.