Kenya on course to eliminating neglected tropical diseases

NAIROBI, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The eradication of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in remote Kenyan counties has gathered steam amid ramped-up investments in their prevention, treatment and care, a senior official said Monday.

Susan Nakhumicha Wafula, cabinet secretary for Health, said that domestication of global instruments has been combined with robust funding, policy reforms, enhanced surveillance and awareness in a bid to get rid of old and forgotten vector-borne diseases.

Speaking at an event to mark the 2023 World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day held in the western Kenyan county of Kisumu, Wafula said that more than 25 million people in the country were at risk of these ailments.

Neglected tropical diseases have been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a major threat to public health security in Kenya, said Wafula, noting that 26 out of 47 Kenyan counties have been identified as endemic to vector-borne neglected tropical ailments including bilharzia, sleeping sickness, river blindness, dengue fever, trachoma and rabies.

To accelerate progress toward the elimination of these ailments, the government and partners have prioritized investment in robust surveillance, early diagnosis, and deployment of therapeutics and vaccines in the endemic counties, Wafula said.

Kenya was declared guinea worm free by the WHO in 2018, said the official, stressing that the launch of a strategy for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases has gained steam, backed by innovative financing, partnerships and political goodwill.

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