SA PARASITES’ CONTROL TASK FORCE MEET WORLD EXPERTS IN WASHINGTON

SA PARASITES’ CONTROL TASK FORCE MEET WORLD EXPERTS IN WASHINGTON

The Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) community comprising 501 participants from 65 countries, including UKZN representatives, the World Health Organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pharmaceutical companies, academia and governments of endemic countries, convened at the World Bank in Washington DC recently.

UKZN’s representatives were Dr Zilungile Kwitshana and Dr Eyrun F Kjetland.

NTDs are highly endemic in rural and semi-urban informal settlements of South Africa.

Dr Dirk Engels of the World Health Organization in Geneva advised the UKZN members on how to proceed with the country’s master plan for the control of NTDs.

Kwitshana, Kjetland, Professor Myra Taylor, Professor Meera Cheggan and Professor Chris Appleton are part of the Parasite Control Task Force that was established by Kwitshana together with the National Department of Health’s Director of Communicable Diseases Director, Ms Tsakani Furumele, and Deputy Directors, Ms Takalani Nemugadi and Mr Wayne Ramkrishna.

The meeting aimed to provide the resources necessary across sectors to remove the primary risk factors - poverty and exposure – for neglected tropical diseases by ensuring access to clean water and basic sanitation, improved living conditions, vector control, health education, and stronger health systems in endemic areas.  According to the meeting, both health workers and teachers are key in the delivery of health to children.

Many endemic countries have succeeded in reducing the suffering caused by the NTDs. A variety of African countries have taken action against the diseases using the free drugs donated by 30 drug companies and a major injection of funding for treatment and control.

South Africa is yet to come on board, but has a draft plan for control of the NTDs. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Julie Jacobsen emphasised the importance of South Africa’s participation.


author email : Kwitshana@ukzn.ac.za