Uganda Launches Master Plan to Control Neglected Tropical Diseases

ENTEBBE, UGANDA— Uganda launched a five-year master plan to control and eliminate all neglected tropical diseases endemic in the country Oct. 5 at an event attended by RTI International and other global partners who will help Uganda implement the plan.

The master plan provides a road map for Uganda to be free of neglected tropical diseases and related morbidity and disabilities by 2020 and recommits the government and partners to achieving this goal.  

The Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, was delegated by His Excellency the President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to preside over the event, demonstrating strong government commitment to ending the suffering of Ugandan people due to neglected tropical diseases.

Since 2007, RTI has worked with the Uganda Ministry of Health to roll out its neglected tropical diseases program, first under the NTD Control Program and now under the ENVISION project, both funded by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The projects provide assistance to national programs, like Uganda’s, targeting lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), onchocerciasis (river blindness), schistosomiasis (snail fever), soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma. To date, USAID has supported countries to deliver more than half a billion preventive neglected tropical disease treatments, reaching cumulatively more than 250 million people in 20 countries.

Neglected tropical diseases cause blindness, worm infestation, severe enlargements of limbs such as legs and feet, and impair childhood growth. These preventable diseases are still prevalent and common in much of the developing world, and together they cause severe disability in the world's poorest countries, resulting in billions of dollars of lost productivity.

Uganda has a high burden of neglected tropical diseases, with all 112 districts endemic for at least one of the USAID-targeted neglected tropical diseases. However, within districts the diseases are not uniformly co-endemic, resulting in a complex map of prevalence distribution that necessitates carefully integrated programming for disease control.

Lisa Rotondo, ENVISION Deputy Technical Director, pledged RTI’s commitment to NTD control and elimination in Uganda, stating that “the launch of this Master Plan is a bold step forward by Uganda. NTDs are a scourge which should not be allowed to continue causing disability, ill health and mortality in endemic communities.”

Significant progress has been made in recent years, with the country close to being certified free of guinea worm disease and on the way to interrupting transmission of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis and achieving trachoma elimination goals.

The Uganda neglected tropical diseases program has also geographically scaled up treatment, with national coverage being reached for several of the diseases, including all districts endemic for lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminthes, and schistosomiasis.  

ENVISION support in Uganda is funded by the U.S. Agency for International development and is provided by RTI and The Carter Center. In support of Uganda Ministries of Health and Education, the program engages with a wide range of dedicated stakeholders, including Sightsavers, the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, the World Health Organization and the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control. For more information on ENVISION’s NTD work in Uganda, go to www.NTDenvision.org.

 

Highlights

  • Uganda launched a five-year master plan to control and eliminate all neglected tropical diseases endemic in the country
  • RTI International and other global partners will help Uganda implement the plan
  • The master plan provides a road map for Uganda to be free of neglected tropical diseases and related morbidity and disabilities by 2020 and recommits the government and partners to achieving this goal