The recent hunger crisis in West Africa`s Sahel region has spurred a series of intestinal-worm and other Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that have spread in the wake of regional flooding. In response to the problem, the United Nations just launched a de-worming effort in West Africa. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), simple de-worming interventions will ensure that people can fully benefit from the food aid distributed. The concern is that malnourished children and adults are very susceptible to contracting these NTDs, transmitted via contaminated water, soil and parasites. NTDs are a group of poverty-associated chronic infectious diseases “such as bilharzia, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms” that are endemic in poor and rural populations in the developing countries of Africa, America and Asia, according to WHO. The diseases affect over 1.4 billion people worldwide, and cause severe morbidity and mortality. They are transmitted by insect bites, flies, water contact or worms in the soil, and are easily spread in areas of poor sanitation.
Dr Luis Gomes Sambo, WHO`s African Regional Director, reported that the flooding created the ideal breeding ground for contracting NTDs and worm-like diseases in the Sahel region. As a consequence, people are now more at risk of malnutrition because of the rise in the number of NTD cases. Despite the Sahel flooding, NTD cases are always on the rise because of low quality drinking water and inadequate latrine coverage. This, in addition to the flooding, creates a sad reality for the people living in these areas. Integrating de-worming activities is “feasible and cost-effective” costing less than 50 cents to treat a person for a year, according to WHO. Since de-worming activities is feasible and cost-effective, I wonder why treatment is still rare in the affected countries. It is time for more humanitarian agencies, public and private sectors, and even lay persons to know about NTDs and get involved in any capacity. This video highlights the current work in Tanzania.
Culled from UN News Center