By Muchemi Wachira
NAIROBI, Kenya –GENEVA Kenya will today ( Wednesday) present to the world the progress the country has made in the eradication of the diseases such as elephantiasis, intestinal worms, trachoma, dengue and Chikungunya among others.
The Kenyan team will join other countries in Geneva, Switzerland for the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Summit, hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Uniting to Combat NTDs.
The two presentations from the Ministry of Health will discuss Kenya’s efforts and challenges in addressing 15 of the 18 diseases, which affect communities without proper sanitation.
Dr Sultani Matendechero told a local media that Kenya has reached six million children in schools a year by spending about Sh300 million on drugs to tackle intestinal worms.
“It is a very cost-effective program that ensures that our children are in school. Our success has also been contributed by the fact that we also provide drugs for other neglected diseases such as elephantiasis therefore, cutting costs by over 60 per cent,” said Dr Matendechero.
People become infected with the through faecal-oral contamination or through the skin. It impairs the nutritional status of the people they infect, causing a significant impact on growth and physical development in children.
The presentation will be made to among others; philanthropist and billionaire Bill Gates, the WHO Director General Margaret Chan, government representatives, scientists and researchers.
Later in the day, Susan Nkirote Mbabu, a Kenyan, will alongside other 11 women across the globe be recognised at the summit for their efforts to address NTDs.
Ms Mbabu will be awarded for identifying people in her community who need Trichiasis surgery. The operation involves correcting an eyelid abnormality in which the eyelashes are misdirected and grow inwards toward the eye.
A report, Integrating neglected tropical diseases into global health and development: fourth WHO report on neglected tropical diseases, will also be launched.
In 2015, the report showed nearly one billion people were treated for at least one disease. Majority of these drugs are donated to about 150 countries by pharmaceutical companies and delivered to impoverished communities.
There were fewer reported cases of sleeping sickness than any other year in history, with fewer than 3,000 cases worldwide – an 89 percent reduction since 2000.
Innovative vector control and diagnostic technologies, supported by increasing numbers of product development partnerships, are revolutionising sleeping sickness diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
Dr Dirk Engels, the WHO director of the Department of control of NTDS said the diseases are some of the oldest and most painful diseases, which afflict the “world’s poorest communities.”
“These diseases disable, debilitate and perpetuate cycles of poverty. Even worse is that it keeps children out of school and their parents out of work yet they can be managed,” he said.
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