Calling time on Neglected Tropical Disease: COUNTDOWN launches in Cameroon

By Kate Hawkins
We are delighted to announce that the COUNTDOWN programme in Cameroon was launched on the 9 October by the Ministry of Public Health. The launch was overseen by His Excellency the Minister, André Mama Fouda.

Neglected Tropical Diseases in Cameroon

Over the years remarkable progress has been made in scaling-up NTD control interventions in Cameroon. The number of people treated has increased up to 10.6 million for lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis, 2.8 million for schistosomiasis, and 8.3 million for soil-transmitted helminthiasis in 2014. However, we are still short from our targets, and there remain several challenges especially with the shift of our ambition from control to elimination of most of these illnesses. This requires a readjustment of our main strategies with more intensified and combined interventions needed.

Within the framework of the COUNTDOWN Project, activities in Cameroon will include:
• Extending praziquantel treatment for schistosomiasis to all populations in need, especially pre-school aged children and pregnant women, and establish biannual treatment in school aged children
• Extending treatment in onchocerciasis hypo-endemic areas and explore alternative treatment strategies where lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis are co-endemic with Loa loa
• Sharing learning on state-of-the-art diagnostics, epidemiology, and social sciences with other COUNTDOWN countries to build a strong consortium in West and Central Africa.

His Excellency the Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda, says:
“Control of NTDs is a long endeavour where we need the full engagement of many health stakeholders. I am reassured that we have strong commitment which can be further expanded in Cameroon. I am certain that this work will make significant steps towards local elimination of certain NTDs.”

The implementing partners for COUNTDOWN in Cameroon are the Neglected Tropical Disease Programme in the Ministry of Health and the University of Buea under the leadership of Professor Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuenté and Professor Samuel Wandji.
COUNTDOWN Country Manager, Professor Louis-Albert Tchuem Tchuenté, Cameroon, highlights:

“This is an exciting time for action on NTDs, especially with the recent China-Africa Health Development Framework including cooperation for schistosomiasis elimination. We are pleased to be part of a much larger movement which is pressing for a new approach to the very old problem of NTDs.”

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