COMMUNICATION FROM THE NATIONAL NTD COORDINATOR
Uganda has a high burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). These affect mainly the rural poor communities with limited access to health care, inadequate information and means of prevention and control measures. The NTDs of the highest public health importance are categorized into two: those amenable to preventive chemotherapy (PC-NTDs) and those that are controlled through case management (CM-NTDs). The PC-NTDs prevalent in Uganda include: Lymphatic filariasis (filarial elephantiasis), Schistosomiasis (bilharzia), Soil-transmitted Helminthes (STH), Onchocerciasis (River blindness) and Trachoma; while the CM-NTDs are: Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT) commonly called Sleeping sickness, Leishmaniasis (Kala-azar), Plague, Buruli Ulcer Disease (BUD), Rabies, Podoconiosis (non-filarial elephantiasis), Tungiasis (Jiggers) and Guinea worm. The NTDs lead to reduced productivity and hence affect the socio-economic development of the country. It is possible to prevent, control and/or eliminate NTDs using effective interventions. Interventions for some of the NTDs are well stipulated in the National Minimum Health Care package of the Uganda Health Sector Strategic and Investment Plan as recommended by WHO.
The Vision of Uganda is to achieve a Uganda free of neglected tropical diseases and related morbidity and disabilities.
Uganda has endemic NTDs with 12 NTDs namely: Onchocerciasis, Schistosomiasis, LF, STH, HAT, Buruli ulcers, Cysticercosis, Dracunculiasis (Guinea worms), Leprosy, Plague, Trachoma, leishmaniasis. The Pop. At risk /each PC NTDs: Schistosomiasis: 13,866,814; STH: 35,400,000; Oncho: 3,943,025; LF: 14,850,766; Trachoma: 9,910,845.
The following NTD specific targets are set to be achieved by 2020 through accelerating the reduction of the disease burden through the control, elimination and eradication of targeted NTDs and contribute to poverty alleviation, increased productivity and better quality of life of the affected people in Uganda.
- Trachoma and LF eliminated in all endemic districts
- Morbidity due to LF, podoconiosis, schistosomiasis, STH, trachoma reduced.
- No guinea worm cases
The Uganda government is a signatory to the international treaties and conventions for the elimination of targeted diseases and is committed to control and eliminate targeted NTDs by the year 2020. With a vision to have Uganda free of NTDs by the year 2020, the Ministry of Health developed a five year NTD Master Plan for a period 2013- 2017, which has been revised to cover the period 2015-2020.The Master Plan is the basis for the harmonization of implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programme performance by all stakeholders. Currently, with support from various partners, there are on-going NTD control and elimination efforts in the country using mass treatment in communities and/or schools, vector elimination, health education and limited morbidity management. The Ministry of Health collaborates with other line Ministries including Education, Water and Mineral Resources, Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. There is also collaboration with other relevant departments within the ministry e.g. Planning, Finance and Budgeting, National Disease Control, and Pharmacy.
So far significant achievements have been realized with varying degrees of success. Uganda was certified free of Guinea worm in 2009; interruption of Onchocerciasis transmission has been achieved in 13 out of 36 districts; impact assessment for the rest of the PC-NTDs is on-going and so far the findings indicate a positive trend towards interruption of transmission for LF and trachoma; morbidity due to schistosomiasis and STH has reduced to less than 20%. In addition to the previous interventions, extra support to scale up morbidity management for targeted NTDS has been obtained. This has been possible through government involvement through:
- Coordination of NTD Programme.
- Development of implementation tools and guidelines.
- Introduction of NTDs in the Health sector plan.
- Number of years of implementation of integrated NTDs control and elimination activities: 8 years.
- Routine Monitoring of all NTD drugs by NDA.
You can also see Uganda’s NTD Five Year Strategic Control Plan 2015-2020.