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Two-Thirds Of Total Patients Of Neglected Tropical Diseases Are In India: Former Director General Of ICMR

There are 172 million patients with Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) worldwide, of which India has the highest number of patients, said Nirmal Kumar Ganguly, former Director General of the ICMR

"Two-Thirds Of Total Patients Of Neglected Tropical Diseases Are In India": Former Director General Of ICMR
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are mostly found in impoverished communities in tropical areas

New Delhi: India has the highest number of cases for each of the major neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the world. NTDs are mostly found in impoverished communities in tropical areas, but some have a larger geographical distribution. In view of the increased number of NTDs in India, Nirmal Kumar Ganguly, former director general of the ICMR, said that there are 172 million patients with NTDs worldwide, of which India has the highest number of patients.

Also Read: How Is India Fighting Diseases Like Kala Azar, Dengue And Elephantiasis?

There are many such diseases in India, about which people do not have much awareness. But it affects a large number of people in any corner of the country. These diseases are called NTDs, which include viral, parasitic, and bacterial diseases that mainly affect the world’s poorest people.

These disease also include serious ones like leishmaniasis (kalazar), lymphatic filariasis (hathipaon), leprosies, etc. Earlier, a dangerous disease named Guinea worm was also included in it; however, now the world has gotten rid of this disease.

Nirmal Kumar Ganguly said,

There are 172 million patients with NTDs worldwide, of which India has the highest number of patients. Because two-thirds of the total patients are found in India only. The poorest communities in India are found to be most affected by these diseases.

Mr Ganguly said that the government is very serious about neglected tropical diseases, and awareness campaigns are being run regarding these diseases. The government is making every possible effort to account for these diseases; from raising awareness to identifying the right treatment, the government is bearing the entire expense.

The former director general of the ICMR said,

Not only this, but the government is also running a door-to-door campaign regarding NTDs. In different parts of the country, many camps are organised in poor, backward areas for awareness and treatment of such diseases. The goal of the government is that by the year 2030, maximum awareness about these diseases can be created among the people and treatment can reach the patients so that these diseases can be eliminated.

Also Read: Neglected Tropical Diseases: Prevalence Of Kala Azar Infection In Uttar Pradesh’s Deoria District

Mr Ganguly said that India has taken significant steps to address major NTDs through dedicated programmes, be it for leprosy, the elimination of filariasis, or kalazar. The number of cases across all has come down significantly. National days for NTDs and dedicated days like National Filaria Day also exist.

Highlighting the challenges, the former director general of the ICMR said that providing diagnostics and drugs to all states at a given time, coordinating efforts across various ministries, encouraging innovation, and ensuring research aligns with control programmes is the priority. India is doing well with designated programmes, research by institutes, and new modules, but further coordination is essential.

He said that, actually, there are 20 neglected tropical diseases. Few of them have India eradicated, like the guinea worm. India has reached the elimination stage, where it is no longer of public health importance to treat the trachoma, which has no vision.

Mr Ganguly added,

So these are the real achievements of India. The other achievement of India is that the three major parasitic diseases, one of which is leishmaniasis, are the only few cases that we are getting, and the majority of them are prevalent in six endemic blocks, while others are free of them. So, Bangladesh has declared elimination for this, and Nepal is also coming down. So there has been a great achievement for leishmaniasis (kalazar).

He further said only the challenges at the moment of neglected tropical diseases are there for dengue, which is very prevalent, and we have to deal with that appropriately. Leprosy is another disease where, more or less, we have received the elimination, and most of the places of elimination mean that it is no longer public and dimmer except in a few areas.

For NTDs, the focal point should be women and children, as they are often the most vulnerable and most affected. Strengthening the health system and integrating dedicated health programmes sustainably with the available health system is crucial for effectively addressing NTDs, Ganguly added.

The former director general of ICMR also said that, at present, these diseases have gained priority globally, not just in India, and this is essential as the success of these programmes is dependent on globally developed medicines and partnerships.

The London Declaration in 2012, where NTDs were given significant importance, and the Kigali Meeting in 2012, where over 100 participants pledged to prioritise NTDs. World NTD Day on January 30 was established. Partnerships were formed, and companies supplied drugs free of charge.

Also Read: India Is Strengthening Surveillance Of Infectious Diseases Through Regional Branches Of National Centre For Disease Control: Union Health Minister

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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