PERMANENT secretary for Health and Child Care, Dr Aspect Maunganidze, has highlighted that neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) can be devastating to communities.
Addressing journalists at a sensitisation workshop on NTDs, organised by Higher Life Foundation, Dr Maunganidze stressed that his Ministry was committed to tackling the issue, despite challenges, and that prevention was key to disease control.
Zimbabwe is host to 14 NTDs, including schistosomiasis (bilharzia), elephantiasis, sleeping sickness and trachoma.
Research shows that Africa has the highest burden of bilharzia, with Sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 93 percent (192 million) of the world’s estimated 207 million cases.
Journalists were also advised to report on NTDs in a bid to increase awareness among the public.
Research has shown that Africa has the highest burden of schistosomiasis.
“Most infectious diseases and cancerous diseases are preventable. Mass drug administration regarding NTDs is possible to prevent them.
“As a Ministry, we recognise the importance of engaging communities in the fight against NTDs. The Government is committed to driving research and innovation, in particular, NTD control. We continue to collaborate with research institutes in the country, among other efforts,” he said.
“Media engagement is pivotal and as a Ministry, we appreciate our partners, Higher Life Foundation.
“The Ministry has an open-door policy and everyone is welcome; this platform is a step in the right direction as it strengthens our relationship thereby making engagement possible. Work is in progress to address NTDs in communities.”