New Delhi: India eliminated visceral leishmaniasis, also known as kala azar, in over 80% of its sub-districts in 2015, the World Health Organisation on Thursday said while noting that remarkable achievements have been made by nations in tackling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) since 2007.

The global health body said that an estimated 1 billion people received treatment in 2015 alone for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The report said that the largest number of people needing treatment and care – in excess of 100 million – are found in India, Indonesia and Nigeria, which together account for 47% of the total.

“In 2015, the target for the elimination of visceral leishmaniasis was achieved in 82% of sub-districts in India, in 97% of sub-districts in Bangladesh, and in 100% of districts in Nepal," WHO in its new report ‘Integrating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Global Health and Development’ said.

The report noted that protection from financial risk is particularly important for the populations bearing the main burden of NTDs because they tend to be least able to afford to support care. “The medical poverty trap affects people worldwide, including in Cambodia and Vietnam, where 50–67% of households have incurred debt as a result of dengue, or in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sudan, where 25–75% of households in which someone is affected by visceral leishmaniasis have had some type of financial difficulty in obtaining diagnosis and treatment, even when tests and medicines are provided free of charge," it said.

The report said that in 2015, yaws was confirmed as having been eliminated in India by a WHO-led international verification team. The effects of discontinuing Mass Drug Administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis must be carefully analysed, and remedial action must be taken to ensure that deworming coverage is maintained, the report said, while noting that India has made significant progress and stopped MDA in 72 districts.

The report said that in 2015, 960 million of the 1.59 billion people requiring mass or individual treatment and care for NTDs were living in lower-middle rather than low-income countries. “Many of the NTDs that cause the highest burden of disease (just five NTDs represent 71% of the total NTD burden) occur predominantly in the largest emerging-market economies in the Group of 20 nations (G20) plus Nigeria, which also has one of the world’s largest economies.

“Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria have the highest prevalence of NTDs, but even very wealthy nations have a hidden burden of NTDs, such as the United States, where it is mostly concentrated in the southern states, and Australia, where blinding trachoma and scabies remain major public health problems in many Aboriginal communities," the report said.

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