Modelling study widens viewpoints for new roadmap for neglected tropical diseases

26 Nov 2019

Findings from recent modelling of 12 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have provided credible insight into the feasibility of their control, elimination and eradication. These diseases of poverty continue to affect more than one billion people. 

The study, by the NTD Modelling Consortium, analysed transmission dynamics and challenges, providing potential evidence and information to inform strategies against NTDs.

The study is opportune as WHO prepares its new roadmap for 2021–2030. While progress has been achieved since the first roadmap was published in 2012, most of the targets for 2020 will not be met.

We recognize the importance of mathematical and statistical models when it comes to setting future targets for infections resulting from conditions as varied as neglected tropical diseases,” said Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. “The modellers have provided additional perspectives to these diseases of poverty and these are critical in finalizing our roadmap for 2021–2030.

The complex interplay of factors and settings in which these diseases occur, including their ecological, social, cultural, economic and demographic conditions, must be thoroughly understood before future targets can be set. 

The modellers also analysed the possible difficulties of implementing measures for some diseases and the technical and operational feasibility of eradication. They examined perceived barriers to control or elimination and the methods most likely to work. The findings are now compiled in a new series of Open Letters. 

The documents describe insights from quantitative and mathematical modelling of Chagas disease, dengue, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness), rabies, scabies, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, Taenia solium infection, visceral leishmaniasis and yaws. 

In April 2019, the NTD Modelling Consortium and the WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases convened a large network of infectious diseases modellers at a meeting supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 

The current roadmap ends in 2020. The new roadmap for 2021–2030 focuses on integrated approaches and cross-sectoral collaboration to accelerate work against NTDs and makes a strong case for new diagnostics and tools for effective implementation of NTD programmes.

This article was written and published by the World Health Organization.