On 8 June 2022, the World Health Organisation launched its global strategy, Ending the neglect to attain the sustainable development goals: a strategic framework for integrated control and management of skin-related neglected tropical diseases.
Written in collaboration with experts across the globe, the framework is a companion to the 2030 skin-related NTD road map, with an aim to integrate the control and management of skin NTDs.
Lepra UK, Lepra Bangladesh and Lepra Society contributed to the strategy, providing consolidated, expert evidence and analysis drawn from tangible experience and practice. We are delighted to see that a number of our recommendations on the draft framework have been adopted in the final document.
Lepra Trustee, Professor Roderick Hay, spoke at the WHO launch on skin diseases, their impact on populations, their burden, and how they affect the quality of life for a person affected. He also pointed out that skin diseases are very simply treated with inexpensive and easily administered medications, something which is not widely recognised.
Also speaking at the WHO webinar was Dr Aparna Srikantam, Director of the Blue Peter Health and Research Centre (BPHRC) based in Hyderabad, India. The BPHRC was established in 1999 following a joint fundraising campaign with Lepra and the children’s TV programme, Blue Peter.
Dr Srikantam made the important point that whilst we recognise the benefits that leprosy can gain from ‘piggy-backing’ upon bigger, better funded Skin NTD Programmes the disease has its own specific particularities which are currently addressed through vertical programmes. The challenge going forward is how to reap the benefits of integration with other skin NTDs, without losing the focus on certain aspect of the disease that come from a leprosy specific vertical approach.
As part of Lepra’s continued programme of care, we are currently exploring this challenge through an integrated skin NTDs project in Bihar, India, co-funded by Effect Hope. Alleviating the burden from Skin diseases of affected People to improve Inclusion, Restoration and Empowerment (ASPIRE) will take an integrated and holistic approach to the detection and treatment of people affected by leprosy and four other common skin diseases across Jamui District, Bihar State. Read more about the project: ASPIRE
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