Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted its 14th meeting of the Strategic and Technical Advisory Group for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), held virtually from June 22 to June 24, 2021. Known as STAG (Strategic and Technical Advisory Group), the group published a number of recommendations, including the potential implications of COVID-19 on Neglected Tropical Diseases. With so much health authority attention on COVID-19, the hundreds of millions of people at risk for NTD face greater risks as programs languished in the pandemic. That is, WHO’s STAG shared that the predicted and emerging empirical evidence suggests possibly profound impacts of the pandemic on the organization’s various programs dealing with NTD. Consequently, the STAG group suggested that first and foremost health systems in the various countries should prepare for not only greater numbers of NTDs, but also “more intense transmission of infection” followed by “accumulating disability” as a consequence of the pandemic and the associated intense focus on fighting COVID-19, to the detriment of other programs, such as leprosy and cutaneous leishmaniasis. WHO’s STAG positions that medicines such as ivermectin that are not proven must be “protected” from diversion, meaning used by health authorities, such as in Indonesia where the national drug regulator has authorized use of ivermectin to combat COVID-19 during this latest intense spike of the pandemic there. Interestingly, WHO anticipates the possibility that ivermectin will be deemed effective, declaring “and that even in the event of efficacy of such drugs against COVID-19 being established, the agreement of medicine donors for repurposing be obtained before the donations are used for that purpose.” Is the WHO preparing to control the distribution of the drug for targeted use against SARS-CoV-2?

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