ESPEN: Celebrating 2020 Targets

Speak Up Africa

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of medically diverse parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases common in tropical and subtropical areas. 600 million people in Africa are affected by NTDs annually, causing death, blindness, disfigurement, chronic pain, cognitive impairment and other long- term disabilities that create obstacles to education, employment, economic growth and overall development.

As the region transitions to implement the WHO NTD Road Map 2030, there’s a lot to celebrate for the milestones NTD endemic countries and their implementation partners have achieved over the past 10 years.

The Expanded Special Project for the Elimination of NTDs (ESPEN), launched in 2016 to focus on the five NTDs amenable to preventive chemotherapy, has been key in helping achieve these milestones, including scaling up of mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns, including triple drug administration (ivermectin, DEC and albendazole). ESPEN work with countries on supply chain enhancement has resulted in analysis and retrieval of millions of donated drugs, previously lost or unaccounted for, saving drugs worth millions of USD.

The elimination of NTDs, through efforts such as harmonization, coordination and prevention, is recognized as a marker for global progress towards achieving universal health coverage, especially when considering equitable treatment and ensuring that no one is left behind.