Neglected tropical diseases are the oldest and most painful infectious diseases affecting over a billion of the world’s most impoverished people with bilharzia and intestinal worms topping the list.

As of 2010, Zimbabwe was affected by four of the five most common neglected tropical diseases namely elephantiasis, bilharzia, intestinal worms, and trachoma.

In 2012 the government introduced the mass drug administration programme in schools and will this month be conducting an impact assessment for the mass drug administration against bilharzia and intestinal worms said Dr Portia Manangazira, the Director for Epidemiology and Disease Control in the Ministry of Health and Child Care.

“We need to assess if there is still need to carry out the mass drug assessment,” she said.

The World Health Organisation through its country representative Dr Alex Gwasasira handed over 15 vehicles to the health ministry which will be used in carrying out the assessment in nine provinces.

“We have partnered the Ministry of Health in this programme because we want to fight tropical diseases,” he said.

Neglected tropical diseases are a group of diseases that are considered not to have received sufficient attention from the donor community and public health planners.