Kenya hosts the first International Neglected Tropical Diseases

Nairobi, December 3, 2019 – Kenya is one of several countries across the world experiencing unprecedented outbreaks of diseases like leishmaniasis, chikungunya, dengue and other haemorrhagic viruses.

The Ministry of Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Rashid Aman said these vector-borne diseases call for the implementation of strategies aimed at strengthening Integrated Vector Management (IVM).

Dr. Rashid revealed that the Ministry of Health has developed a draft IVM Policy to address the menace as the country aspires to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) under the “Big Four” agenda by the year 2022.

The CAS made the remarks today during the opening of the 1st international conference on neglected tropical diseases and 13th annual neglected tropical diseases conference attended by multidisciplinary and international community of scientists and project managers to discuss basic and field-based operational research in Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The National Experts Committee on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) was established to spearhead the Elimination and Certification of Elimination of four NTDs namely Onchocerciasis, Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) and Trachoma in August 2018.

In the Ministry of Health the Division of Vector Borne & Neglected Tropical Diseases is charged with the responsibility  to ensure control, elimination and eventual eradication of the NTDs, a group of infectious diseases that are the source of tremendous suffering because of their disfiguring, debilitating and sometimes deadly impact.

They are called neglected because they have been largely wiped out in the more developed parts of the world and persist only in the poorest, most marginalized communities and conflict areas. Social stigma is a major consequence of NTDs and in addition to causing physical and emotional suffering, these devastating diseases hamper a person’s ability to work, keep children out of school and prevent families and communities from thriving, the CAS noted.

He revealed that Kenya is among the countries that have maintained a zero reporting of Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) since 2009 and will be conducting activities to eliminated HAT as a public health problem by 2020.

He however, acknowledged that the increasing trade and interaction among individuals and communities living along national boundaries has seen the risk of cross-border transmission of infection of NTDs in region.

“This is happening amidst an increased incidence of major infectious and parasitic diseases including HIV/AIDS and livestock related schistosomiasis and Animal African Trypanosomiasis (AAT) among others, that have taken a toll on scarce health-care service resources,” Rashid said.

He called for cross-border partnerships in mitigating the risk of cross-border transmission, mobilization of resources to strengthen and sustain on-going efforts to control and eliminate the NTDs and creation of awareness among the affected population, coupled with medical and public health intervention campaigns.

He also empathized that efforts in the elimination of the four targeted NTDs dovetails with the national program on the attainment of the UN SDGs and universal healthcare coverage for all including marginalized communities which bear the brunt of NTDs in our setting.