WHO releases Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (19 April 2017)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its fourth Report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

The report describes the progress made towards achieving the Roadmap targets for 2020, noting the remaining challenges, then looks beyond 2020 to evaluate the changing global health and development landscape, considering the implications of integrating these diseases into the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Key Messages:

In 2015, significant progress was made towards achieving the WHO NTD Roadmap targets.

This progress was on account of implementation of the five interventions suggested by the WHO to overcome NTDs:

  1. preventive chemotherapy;
  2. innovative and intensified disease management;
  3. vector ecology and management;
  4. veterinary public health services; and
  5. the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene

Preventive chemotherapy defines the strategy of treating infected individuals to reduce morbidity and preventing transmission by administering medicines in communities at risk.

A record of nearly 1 billion people, or 62.9% of those in need, received preventive chemotherapy for at least one disease in 2015 alone.

In 2015, 557.9 million people received treatment for lymphatic filariasis. This rate of treatment coverage (59.3%) is the highest ever achieved by any programme implementing mass drug administration (MDA) for this disease.

In addition, more than 185 000 patients had surgery for trichiasis worldwide and more than 56 million people received antibiotic therapy for trachoma.

Some 119 million people received ivermectin treatment for onchocerciasis, representing 64.1% coverage of those in need, including in newly defined areas of hypoendemicity.

Dracunculiasis was nearly eradicated in 2015.

Innovative and intensified disease management uses different interventions – ranging from medicine to surgery – to relieve the symptoms and consequences of those diseases for which effective tools are scarce or where the widespread use of existing tools is limited.

Reductions occurred in the numbers of new cases

  • of human African trypanosomiasis (by 89%) during 2000–2015,
  • of visceral leishmaniasis in Bangladesh, India and Nepal (by 82%) since 2005 and
  • of Buruli ulcer (by 60%) compared with 2008.

Also in 2015, yaws was confirmed as having been eliminated in India by a WHO-led international verification team, and all Latin American countries achieved universal blood screening for Chagas disease among blood donors.

Vector ecology and management strategies, which focus on developing and promoting guidelines, are based on the principles and approaches of integrated vector management, including the judicious use of pesticides.

After the Sixty-ninth session of the World Health Assembly in 2016, and at the request of Member States, a Global Vector Control Response for 2017–2030 was drafted and requested for consideration by the Seventieth World Health Assembly in May 2017.

Veterinary public health services and the One Health approach recognize that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment.

This is particularly relevant to the neglected zoonotic diseases, a subset of NTDs that are naturally transmitted from vertebrate animals to humans and vice versa, such as rabies.

In 2015, only 12 reported human deaths were attributable to dog-mediated rabies in the Region of the Americas.

Providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene (known as WASH) is a key component of the NTD strategy and is critical for preventing and providing care for most NTDs.

Many of the pathogens that cause NTDs thrive where water and sanitation are inadequate.

In August 2015 WHO launched a global strategy and action plan to integrate WASH with other public health interventions.

The joint NTD–WASH strategy for 2015–2020 aims to intensify the control of, or eliminate, selected NTDs in specific regions by 2020.

Of the five key interventions employed to tackle NTDs, preventive chemotherapy stands out, both in terms of its effectiveness as a strategy against certain NTDs and the resources going into it, the two things being related.

However, each of the five interventions is vitally important, and going forward it is essential to ensure that each receives the attention it merits and the resources it requires.

Vector ecology and management is particularly important, being woefully under resourced despite its crucial importance, notably in response to outbreaks.


  • Financing
  • Better Implementation and Surveillance
  • Integration of inter and intra-sectoral action and collaboration
  • Integration of NTD interventions into broader health systems

Useful Links:

Link to the full Report (English) [PDF]:


Link to the Executive summary of the Report (English) [PDF]:

Click to access WHO-HTM-NTD-2017.02-eng.pdf

Link to the news release:


Link to WHO review on Neglected Tropical Diseases:


Link to WHO’s Neglected Tropical Diseases web site:


Link to WHO fact sheets on Neglected Tropical Diseases:


Link to the WHO NTD Roadmap (English) [PDF]:

Click to access WHO_HTM_NTD_2012.1_eng.pdf


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