WASH inclusion in new NTD roadmap signals ‘a paradigm shift’

The inclusion of a water, sanitation, and hygiene indicator in the World Health Organization’s new neglected tropical disease roadmap 2021-2030 signals a shift in attitude toward WASH’s importance, but will require even greater coordination, experts say.

NTDs are a group of 20 communicable diseases — including leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis — which, despite often being preventable, have debilitating and sometimes fatal consequences. According to WHO, the 20 diseases affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide. Those with poor access to quality health services, clean water, and sanitation are at increased risk.

The latest roadmap, launched last week at a virtual event, lays out a guide to achieve a 90% reduction in the number of people requiring NTD treatment, the elimination of at least one NTD in 100 countries, the eradication of dracunculiasis — or guinea worm — and yaws, and a 75% reduction in disability-adjusted life years. Among 70 indicators in the roadmap, one focuses on WASH and achieving 100% “access to at least basic water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in areas endemic for NTDs” by 2030.

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