World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day will be observed on January 30 as the first global health day of the year. The day, first designated in 2020, highlights diseases that receive little investment from global funders; a reality that needs to be changed. Many of these diseases are known to us such as dengue, chikungunya, zika (known as arboviruses) and leprosy, having impacted populations in Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. It is, therefore, fitting that World NTD Day 2023 be observed under the theme “Act Now. Act Together. Invest in Neglected Tropical Diseases”.
Our work as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO) Country office is guided by the WHO’s roadmap for 2021-2030, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Neglected, Tropical and Vector-Borne Diseases Unit at PAHO’s regional headquarters.
Each year, PAHO delivers technical cooperation to support countries in strengthening the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs to control and eliminate these diseases. In recent years, the Region of the Americas has recorded several wins, including Costa Rica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago, putting an end to lymphatic filariasis, known as elephantiasis, because of its characteristic thickening of the limbs.
Closer to home, the PAHO/WHO Country Office has supported Jamaica’s Ministry of Health in developing its Integrated Management Strategy for Arboviral Diseases, improved laboratory capacity, and surveillance support. In Jamaica, PAHO/WHO also facilitates the free provision of multidrug therapy (MDT) for leprosy, an NTD that can cause significant disability and stigmatization but is curable if treated.