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Oman curbs spread of Neglected Tropical Diseases

Muscat - 

Oman has successfully checked the spread of many Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) listed by the World Health Organization (WHO), but the country has recorded new cases in a few other diseases including leprosy.

WHO recently released a report tracking the progress made in preventing and controlling 17 NTDs across the world. Titled ‘Sustaining the drive to overcome the global impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases’, the report reveals that new developments have moved the world closer to the elimination of many NTDs, promoting health strategies to control and eradicate them.

The report stated that in 2010 alone, 711mn people globally received treatment for at least one of four diseases, namely lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiases. But according to Ashok Moloo, information officer from the department of control of NTDs at WHO, Geneva, there is limited transmission of schistosomiasis in Oman. “The sultanate conducts case-based treatment and in 2010 only 1,355 people were treated for the disease. The country may eliminate schistosomiasis as per a WHO resolution adopted in May 2012,” he told Muscat Daily.

WHO has projected that over the next five years, treatment for schistosomiasis will reach 235mn people, which would be achieved by increasing availability of medicines and improved distribution at the country level.

According to the report, dengue ranked as the fastest spreading vector-borne viral disease in 2012, looming as a potential epidemic worldwide, and registered a 30-fold increase in disease incidence over the past 50 years. However, there has been no confirmed transmission of dengue in Oman. “The country has developed a vector control plan based on WHO-recommended ‘Integrated vector management’. It is taking all precautions against the Aedes aegypti virus-transmitting vector, which is present in the south (bordering Yemen). But despite the threat, there hasn't been a confirmed case of dengue in Oman,” said Moloo.

He added that between 2008 and 2011, two cases of zoonotic (a disease that normally exists in animals but can infect humans) visceral leishmaniasis and 14 cases of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis were recorded in Oman. “No data is available with regards to other zoonotic diseases, mainly rabies and echinococcosis,” Moloo pointed out. “However, three new cases of leprosy were detected in the sultanate in 2011.”

The report said donation of medicines and funding through an alignment of international partners has helped fast-track various WHO initiatives. A case in point is the widespread delivery of safe, single-dose, quality-assured medicines as preventive treatment against five anthelminthic (worm) diseases and trachoma (chlamydial infection). Moloo added that the latter is under surveillance in Oman.

The WHO report also added that two NTDs were targeted for global eradication.

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