15:46 GMT27 February 2021
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    Some lethal tropical diseases "are no longer strictly tropical" and their potential spread is yet another argument for a more concerted effort to eradicate them.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The World Health Organization (WHO) urged developing countries on Thursday to invest billions of dollars in the global fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

    The WHO hopes to accumulate a fund of $34 billion over 16 years with the help from low and middle-income countries who are expected to increase their contributions to 0.1 percent of their annual health budget, to boost the fight against 17 NTDs.

    "Increased investments by national governments can alleviate human misery, distribute economic gains more evenly and free masses of people long trapped in poverty," WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said as quoted in the press release.

    NTD refers to mostly infectious insect-borne diseases, including rabies, leprosy, sleeping sickness and the dengue fever. Many of them lead to blindness, disfigurement, permanent disability and have a high mortality rate.

    WHO's department director for NTDs, Dirk Engels, warned that some lethal tropical diseases "are no longer strictly tropical" and their potential spread is yet another argument for a more concerted effort to wipe NTDs off the face of the earth.

    The health watchdog praised the efforts of countries that have made significant advances in combating tropical diseases, such as Colombia, the first country to rid itself of river blindness, which is caused by parasitic worms.

    The NTDs affect more than a billion people in almost 150 countries worldwide, according to WHO.

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    Tags:
    World Health Organization (WHO), neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Margaret Chan
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