Honduras becomes first Latin American country to launch integrated plan to combat NTDs

A major milestone was achieved on April 12, 2012 when Honduras became the first country in the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region to officially launch an integrated national plan to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

The Pan American Health Organization, U.N. agencies, and other international and local non-profit partners.

Seated at the table from left to right, Dr. Gina Watson, PAHO Representative in Honduras, Vice Minister Mirian Yolanda Paz and Dr. Luis Castellanos, Coordinator, Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases, PAHO

Dr. Mirian Yolanda Paz, Vice Minister of Health, led the activities and laid out the path to end nine NTDs endemic to Honduras (soil-transmitted helminths, Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, leptospirosis, cysticercosis, neonatal and nonneotal tetnus, congenital syphilis and rabies).  The plan includes a budget for proposed activities and is estimated at $20 million (USD) over a five year period.  Honduras’s plan will increase the cost-effectiveness sustainability of its existing NTD programs by integrating the various control and elimination activities, and by promoting NTD awareness and partnerships in the country.

In October 2009, the Latin American and Caribbean Member States of PAHO passed Resolution CD49/1R19, Elimination of Neglected Diseases and other Poverty-Related Infections, at their 49th Annual Directing Council meeting. This Resolution, adopted by Ministers of Health, was a critical call to action necessary to build political will and leadership around strengthening efforts to combat NTDs in the region, setting common goals to eliminate 10 of them and drastically reduce the burden of two others by 2015.

The launch of Honduras’s five-year strategic plan reinforces the country’s commitment to combat these diseases once and for all, and supports those behind current efforts in taking a major step forward towards scale up and the ultimate elimination of these diseases.

The launch also highlights the Honduran government’s leadership in the fight against NTDs. Honduras is proud to be the first country in the region to launch a national integrated plan, with Brazil following closely behind.

“Honduras serves as an inspiration for other endemic countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop a comprehensive and well-defined national plan to combat neglected infectious diseases,” said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases. “We congratulate the Honduran Ministry of Health on its leadership and commitment to combat these diseases of poverty and dramatically improve the quality of life for its citizens. This is the foundation that we need to control and even eliminate several neglected infectious diseases by 2015.”

Unlike other pressing global health challenges, controlling and eliminating NTDs in Latin America and the Caribbean is achievable. With increasing political will among affected governments and rising interest from regional and international donors, the Region is poised to end the suffering and disability caused by NTDs.