PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Authors in PLOS NTDs discuss lessons learned from Burundi's efforts to control and eliminate NTDs.

"Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 conditions that together affect over 1,000,000,000 people in the developing world [1]. Nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and public-private partnerships have joined efforts to place the NTDs in the spotlight, especially the seven that can be treated with an annual dose of safe and effective drugs: trachoma, three soil-transmitted helminthiases (STHs, ascariasis, hookworm infections, and trichuriasis), lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, and schistosomiasis (SCH) [2]. On the wave of this new interest in NTDs, Burundi was selected in 2007 by the Legatum Foundation for financial support for a national NTD programme.

Before 2007, Burundi hosted two ministerial programmes related to treatment of parasitic diseases: the National Programme for the Control of Transmissible Diseases and Deficiencies (Lutte contre le Maladies Transmissibles et Carentielles [LMTC]), responsible for managing malaria, worm infections, and nutrition, and an onchocerciasis control programme (Programme National de Lutte contre l'Onchocercose [PNLO]). The PNLO, supported by the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) [3] and CBM (formerly known as Christian Blind Mission) [4], involved the annual administration of ivermectin (IVM) in ten endemic districts (namely Cibitoke, Bubanza, Bururi, Rutana, Mpanda, Rumonge, Matana, Gihofi, Mabayi, and the Kayogoro commune in the Makamba district) via the well-established Community Directed Treatment with Ivermectin (CDTI) strategy [5]. For other NTDs, such as trachoma and LF, no specific programmes were in place in Burundi at that time."