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Adoption of SDGs brings opportunities and challenges for integrated NTDs confrontation

A great advance towards the Sustainable Development Goals was the acknowledgement of Neglected Tropical Diseases as a priority target for integrated global action


Piauí SDG Project should allow the alignment of public policies and development initiatives in the State towards Sustainable Development Goals

A great advance towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was the fact that Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are now officially recognized as a priority target for an integrated global action This addition represents an unique opportunity to strengthen the control agendas for this group of diseases that still represent a serious public health in the entire world. Brazil reinforces its historical responsibility since it is an ODS signatory, as well as its leadership in this process, by prioritizing surveillance actions.

To professor at the Community Health Department from Ceará Federal University Medical School, Dr. Alberto Novaes Ramos Jr, the SDG opens for new approaches to confront NTDs in an integrated global action. In Brazil, the process to develop a basis document from links between different technical fields of the Surveillance Secretary was inspired in a study that aimed to dimension the NTD morbimortality in 2015 and assess their standards and space and time trends. The study assessed Chagas disease, schistosomiasis mansoni, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, integumentary leishmaniasis, visceral leishmaniasis, onchocerciasis (river blindness), human rabies and trachoma in all Brazilian municipalities.

In 2015, for example, we identified 104,476 new cases of the selected NTDs, with greater detection rates in the North and Northeast regions, and 7,786 deaths with multiple causes, especially in the Center-West, Southeast and Northeast, he says. Novaes explains that at the time, an overlap of NTDs was observed in 40% of the municipalities and overlap of deaths in 7.2%. It is estimated that 26 million people are at risk of NTDs. There was a straight relationship between detection and Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) from the Applied Economics Research Institute (IPEA), with greater rates among males, indigenous and above 60 years-old. The time trend demonstrated a detection decrease in 2007-2015 in the Country and in all large regions, while remaining in significant levels, he adds while saying these diseases are a persistent public health problem in Brazil, due to the load among the population and relation to social vulnerability.

Some global events from the past years have brought to light the possibility to advance towards a global response to NTDs. Reaching these objectives will surely have a positive impact towards reaching the goals related to NTDs. One of the goals (3.3) is to, until 2030, cease the epidemics of AIDS, malaria and neglected diseases as a public health problem, besides combating hepatitis, diseases transmitted by water and other infectious diseases, which means a considerable increase of the global action focus if compared to what was previously established by the MDGs, stresses the professor.

Piauí in pursuit to reach the Sustainable Development Goals

To strengthen sustainable human development by implementing the 2030 Agenda, the United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) and the Piauí State Government launched this April, in Teresina, the Piauí SDG Project, an initiative aiming to meet the SDG goals. The goals include eradicating poverty, economic growth with inequality reduction and responsible production and consumption, with sustainable use of the environment. The Project should promote public policies alignment and growth initiatives in the state towards the SDGs.

During the initiative’s debut, the State Secretary of Planning, Antonio Neto, emphasized it will be possible to reduce inequalities and increase income and job generation capacity. The UNPD Country Director, Didier Trebucq said inclusive public policies that meet the local needs are important and that the UNs initiative should allow the improvement of programs aiming specific regions. This will increase Piauis social indexes and we will be able to monitor the SDGs implementation, he said.

The UN General Assembly, in September 2015, acknowledged the challenges that remained within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and that became more complex. This way, the 193 member-states established the 17 SDGs in a document named Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with new goals to be reached until 2030. From these 17 goas, world leaders committed to a wide political and universal agenda, intending to speed the progress started by the MDGs.

The complex performance of this global agenda with 17 SDGs is based on specific and feasible indicators linked to clear goals. The proposal is, from global, national, regional and local standpoints, to assess the evolution of actions developed to solve problems related to environmental, social and economic aspects regarding these diseases. According to the document, this Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 169 targets demonstrate the great challenge to face the universal Agenda with a very complex plan of action, balanced between the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental fields. To learn more about the goals click here

The Ministry of Health presented the assessment of health indicators and the challenges to meet the SDGs

 According to Professor Novaes, the publication Brazil Health 2017 :analysis of health indicators and challenges to meet the SDGs  evidences the Brazilian commitment to produce and disseminate analyses about the current situation of health indicators focused on the DSGs with projection of future scenarios. The book brings relevant information aiming to drive priorities and actions able to reduce mortality by the assessed diseases and, this way, ease the achievement of the proposed goals. It also brings de ions of ecological analyses results over multiple groups and time series, evidencing, this way, the situation of health indicators about the population, what increases knowledge about the magnitude and trends, as well as the historical distribution of sickening and death risks. This way, the publication can contribute to identify indicators for the SDGs regarding health, especially those that demand short, medium and long term actions, says Novaes.

Neglected diseases in Brazil: vulnerabilities and challenges

On chapter 5, coordinated by professor Novaes, the book brings an assessment on neglected diseases in Brazil, in the context of their vulnerabilities and challenges. It reinforces the importance of strengthening the Unified Health System (SUS) to combat these diseases, especially, by the basic attention network with strong popular participation. Integrating control actions for several diseases is a challenge to be achieved by identifying common features for surveillance and health attention, he says.



It is estimated that two billion people are at risk of developing one or more NTDs. These diseases, when associated to the poverty condition of those affected, represent an annual impact of billions of dollars to the world economy. NTDs have been the cause and, at the same time, the consequence of structural poverty that include a great number of people, strengthening a perverse cycle with impacts on chronic misery, precarious health conditions, low living standards, prejudice and stigmatization.