WHO launches new portal for improved decision-making on NTDs in Africa

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa has announced the launch of a new and improved version of its online portal aimed at providing better access to more detailed country-specific data relating to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), towards more evidence-based decision making against NTDs in Africa, says a press statement by WHO Africa.

“Through the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of NTDs (ESPEN), the WHO Regional Office for Africa has made several improvements to its online portal. This user-friendly platform allows Ministries of Health and other users to access data on NTDs on a sub-national level, to identify specific areas where interventions are needed most,” said the statement.

“The in-depth, sub-national data provides an accurate picture of NTD prevalence across each country, enabling national NTD programs to make better-informed decisions and distribute resources most efficiently. Specifically, the ESPEN portal provides access to data on the five most prevalent NTDs that respond to preventive chemotherapy (PC – NTDs).”

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NTDs affect an estimated 1.58 billion people globally, 39% of whom are said to live in Africa, according to WHO. “These diseases are both preventable and treatable, yet they continue to cause severe disfigurement and other long-term disabilities that create obstacles to education, employment, economic growth and overall development.”

The portal, which according to the statement offers access to new interactive maps from 48 countries and downloadable data from across 44 countries, is designed to enable health ministries and stakeholders to more easily share and exchange program data to accelerate the elimination of several NTDs such schistosomiasis, trachoma and river blindness. The portal will also help countries of the WHO Africa region meet the UN’s sustainable development goal 3.3, which aims to achieve the elimination of NTDs by 2030.

“It’s critical that countries do more to combat the variety of NTDs that are sadly still so prevalent across Africa, causing their citizens severe disabilities and sometimes their lives. Access to updated and more accurate data is vital for countries to implement strategic plans that can truly help to save lives and eliminate NTDs,” said Maria Rebollo Polo, team lead for ESPEN at WHO Africa, as quoted in the press statement.

ESPEN is a WHO project created in the spirit of a public-private partnership with the ultimate goal of accelerating the elimination of five PC-NTDs in Africa.

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