Significant progress has been made by Bangladesh, Maldives, and DPR Korea in their efforts towards eradicating diseases.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that Bangladesh has successfully eliminated visceral leishmaniasis, a parasitic illness transmitted by sandflies, and that rubella has also been eradicated in the Democratic Republic of Korea (commonly known as North Korea).
Bangladesh has achieved the distinction of being the initial nation to be confirmed as having eliminated visceral leishmaniasis (also called kala azar), a dangerous and neglected tropical illness prevalent in the area.
In 2017, the nation successfully met the goal of having less than one case per 10,000 people at the “sub-district level.” Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has maintained this achievement.
Maldives leprosy milestone
The Maldives has become the initial nation to confirm the cessation of leprosy transmission, reaching the significant accomplishment of no reported cases in children for a continuous period of five years.
In 2019, the Maldives released a plan with specific goals to achieve the elimination of leprosy by 2030.
According to a review by the World Health Organization, the island nation’s success in addressing leprosy can be attributed to strong support from the government and community, as well as effective healthcare systems and a lack of discrimination against those affected by the disease.
DPR Korea success
According to the National Verification Committee of DPRK, the Southeast Asia Regional Verification Commission for Measles and Rubella Elimination from the WHO has determined that the country has successfully eliminated the endemic rubella virus.
In November 2019, North Korea incorporated the measles-rubella vaccine into its regular childhood immunization programs. This followed a successful immunization campaign that provided vaccines for children aged 9 months to 15 years and women aged 16 to 18 against measles and rubella.
Through this large-scale immunization effort, the country was able to achieve a coverage rate of over 99.8% in a target population of approximately six million, resulting in a significant level of population immunity against rubella.
“WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that neglected tropical diseases such as lymphatic filariasis, visceral leishmaniasis, and leprosy, as well as the danger rubella poses to children and young individuals, necessitate sustained leadership, dedication, and joint efforts from countries and global health partners.”
I commend the significant advancements made by Bangladesh and Maldives, in accordance with WHO recommendations, in safeguarding their citizens from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). I also acknowledge Bhutan, DPR Korea, and Timor-Leste for their efforts to eradicate rubella as a threat to public health. These accomplishments will have a positive impact on the well-being of the most vulnerable populations both currently and in the future.
Regional Committee Session number seventy-six is currently taking place and Regional Director Poonam Khetrapal Singh praised Bangladesh, Maldives, and DPR Korea for their accomplishments in public health. She specifically recognized Bangladesh for eliminating lymphatic filariasis as a public health issue and Bhutan and Timor-Leste for their elimination of rubella earlier this year.
“These accomplishments are remarkable, a result of a strong strategic vision and culture that we have built over the past decade and beyond. This vision and culture are dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of not just a few, but all individuals, globally,” she stated.