Neglected Tropical Diseases: Helen Keller Stands By Cameroon For 30 Years

The organisation has been mobilising between 1 billion FCFA-2 billion FCFA each year since 1992 to help the government fight some five neglected tropical diseases.

Helen Keller International, the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health, the Circle of the Friends of Cameroon, CERAC of First Lady, Mrs. Chantal Biya, patients, former patients and other partners on Sunday, January 30, 2022 marked two important international events. All to do with people suffering from Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs.

Joint Commemoration
The joint celebration in Jamot Centre in the Mballa II neighbourhood of Yaounde concerned the 69th World Leprosy Day with theme, “United for dignity.” And the 3rd World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, on the theme, “Achieving health equity to end the neglect of poverty-related diseases.”
Prof. Louis Richard Njock, Secretary General in Ministry of Public Health, reminded the gathering that leprosy was curable, but its eradication was being hampered by stigmatisation and false beliefs. He said 15 of the 20 world-listed Neglected Tropical Diseases were endemic in Cameroon. But thanks to the support of partners, government has been working hard to contain the situation.

Long-time Partner  
Patrick Mbia, Programme Advisor in charge of Neglected Tropical Diseases at Helen Keller International in Cameroon, told Cameroon Tribune that NTDs most of the time affect low-income, underprivileged people. “Helen Keller International assists the Ministry of Public Health to fight five NTDs - Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic filariasis, Trachoma, Soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis or bilharzia. Helen Keller has been an active technical and financial partner to Cameroon since 1992,” Mbia disclosed.

Huge Sums Mobilised  
Helen Keller mobilises funding from international donors and then puts it at the disposal of the Ministry of Public Health to fight these diseases. “Our support helps the Ministry of Public Health to carry out a package of interventions including capacity-building, monitoring and evaluation, and free of charge mass distribution of medication. Each year we mobilise between 1 billion FCFA-2 billion FCFA to help government to tackle the tropical neglected diseases,” Patrick said.
The money, which is shared out to the country’s 10 administrative regions, is mainly donated by the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, through the FHI360 Organisation. In order to assist government to implement its NTD activities, Helen Keller also works with partners such as SightSavers, Perspective and International Eye Foundation.

Disease Surveillance
Mbia listed Helen Keller’s achievements in Cameroon over the years to include the annual, free distribution of Mectizan® tablets to almost 9 million people. This is the main medication used in Cameroon against Onchocerciasis or River Blindness. “Concerning Lymphatic filariasis, all health districts that had to conduct mass drug administration successfully achieved mass treatment phase. We are now carrying out disease surveillance. This means the transmission of Lymphatic filariasis is being interrupted. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Public Health has put in place a well-thought-out programme in case there is an upsurge of the disease in some communities,” Mbia noted.

Role Of Volunteers
He said it the same situation obtains with Trachoma, which is mainly endemic in Northern Cameroon. Mass treatment has also been completed in most of the targeted health districts and...



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