Malaysia joins the campaign to eradicate neglected tropical diseases

Saras Ramiya
03 Feb 2021

Malaysia along with the global community is committed to eradicating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). As a mark of support, the Kuala Lumpur Tower was lit up on 30 January 2021, the second annual World NTD Day.

“We are proud to join 23 other nations worldwide as part of this year’s World NTD Day for global solidarity against neglected tropical diseases,” said Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Director-General of Health, MOH, in a press release.

MOH and the Institute for Clinical Research (ICR), National Institutes of Health (NIH) Malaysia in partnership with the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Carter Center, the END Fund, Uniting to Combat NTDs, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), and more than 300 government, health, community and business leaders, will launch a series of activities in support of eliminating NTDs worldwide. [Available at: Accessed on 28 January 2021]

NTDs affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide, resulting in thousands of preventable deaths and impairments that perpetuate the cycle of poverty for millions. Untreated NTDs lead to cognitive impairment and developmental disabilities, and severe forms can cause malnutrition and death.

In Malaysia, the common NTDs are dengue and rabies. Dengue is a major cause of morbidity and mortality with more than 120,000 cases in 2019 despite various preventive steps, including vector control and community engagement. Rabies outbreaks—with mortality rates of about 90 percent—occur especially along the border states such as Sarawak where 29 people died in 2017–2020. MOH and state governments continue to implement preventive measures such as high-level surveillance, vaccination of pets, and the management of strays, in a continuous effort to control and eradicate rabies. [Available at: Accessed on 28 January 2021]

“We all need to leverage on big data analytics and multi-sectoral evidence-based programmes to eradicate neglected tropical diseases,” said Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim, Deputy Director-General of Health (Research and Technical Support), MOH.

In conjunction with the World NTD Day campaign, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the NTD roadmap on 28 January 2021, with the theme of ‘Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: a road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030.’

The World NTD Day campaign is an opportunity to apply the unprecedented collaboration around the COVID-19 pandemic to address NTDs. This includes cross-sector and cross-industry partnerships, building strong political will, and generating the necessary resources.

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