What we do

The Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN) is WHO/AFRO’s flagship project for tackling the five most prevalent Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa amenable to preventive chemotherapy (PC) through Mass Drug Administration (MDA): lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis (Oncho), soil-transmitted helminths (STH), schistosomiasis (SCH), and trachoma (TRA). The project was established as a public-private partnership between WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), Member States, and NTD partners to mobilize political, technical, and financial resources to reduce the burden of PC-NTDs in the region. ESPEN’s remit covers 47 countries in Africa and five countries in the WHO Regional Eastern Mediterranean Office (EMRO): Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen. Since its inception, ESPEN has been central to the global success story of the NTDs of the past decade, through the development of enhanced data sharing (through the ESPEN portal) and contributing to the reduction in the number of people requiring interventions against NTDs by 25%, falling by some 80 million people between 2020 and 2021 alone. In the African region, having made significant progress in the past 7 years supporting countries to achieve 100% geographical coverage which was an ESPEN primary goal, ESPEN is now focusing on sustaining the progress made so far, to enable the elimination of PC-NTDs by supporting the NTD-Roadmap 2021-2030 implementation goals under the 3 key pillars:

  • Accelerate programmatic actions by providing data support to countries to use WHO evidence-based guidelines to inform effective intervention strategies, planning, and implementation, and enhance service delivery through improved supply chain logistics and access to medicines and other commodities.
  • Intensify cross-cutting approaches through data, surveillance, and supply chain support for One-Health (for zoonotic PC-NTDs supported under ESPEN such as schistosomiasis and Taeniasis), WASH, vector control and data integration and mainstreaming within national health systems for common delivery platforms that combine work on several diseases, and to improve the quality of NTD management in the context of universal health coverage, coordinating with other sectors within and beyond health on NTD-related interventions.
  • Facilitate country ownership at national and subnational levels, by supporting community-level data, devolved mapping, devolved IU levels for interventions, and increased data use.