22 juillet 2019
Last week over 200 African delegates gathered at the WHO AFRO Bi-Annual NTD Programme Managers Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss successes and challenges in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa.
Ms Cissé Mariama Mohamed, Social Affairs Department Director for the African Union Commission, was joined by the Minister of Health for Ethiopia and national NTD program managers from across the continent at the event organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Office for Africa and the African Union Commission.
The meeting offered an opportunity for affected countries, donors, technical experts and international organisations to review progress against the World Health Organization’s roadmap on NTDs, which set important targets including global elimination of several NTDs, such as blinding trachoma, by 2020. Achievements to date include 1 billion people treated against at least one NTD and 37 countries eliminating at least one NTD worldwide.
During the meeting the WHO and country programme managers agreed several action points, including:to collaborate with other key sectors such as education in the fight against NTDs;
Other regional plans and strategies were also reviewed including the upcoming WHO AFRO regional strategy for NTDs and the ESPEN framework for the period 2021-2025.
Ms Cissé Mariama Mohamed, Social Affairs Department Director, African Union Commission, says:
“I would like to applaud WHO and partners for the excellent work that they are undertaking in Member States towards the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It is evident that significant progress has been accomplished in addressing these diseases.
“While celebrating the progress made in tackling NTDs in the past, there is now a need to emphasise and advocate for the eradication of the parasites in endemic communities through vector control measures, health education and improving the hygiene practices including the provision of clean water and sanitation. The African Union Commission looks forward to collaborating with partners that are working with our Member States to ensure that NTDs are eliminated from the continent.”
Neglected Tropical Diseases are a diverse group of communicable diseases which affect more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, 39% of whom live in Africa.
In conjunction with the meeting, policy and advocacy tank Speak Up Africa launched a new online platform to enable knowledge sharing and facilitate the spread of the “No to NTDs” movement in Africa.
Designed for health ministers, health workers, civil society organisations and other decisionmakers in African countries affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), the downloadable resources support campaign planning, strategic partnership building, increased visibility and monitoring and evaluation. As a result, the No to NTDs movement aims to build the capacity of civil society organisations and create an enabling environment for NTD elimination at a national level.
Earlier this month, the first national rollout of the No to NTDs movement was officially launched in Niger on the side-lines of the AU Summit in Niamey. The No to NTDs movement is part of an inclusive advocacy campaign led by Speak Up Africa aimed at increasing awareness, prioritization and national commitment to accelerate the control and elimination of NTDs in Africa. The No to NTDs platform is now available online at www.notontds.org or www.nonauxmtn.org.
The platform is supported by the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN), which hosts a portal that enables health ministries and national NTD programmes to share and exchange sub-national data on Neglected Tropical Diseases to help facilitate progress against these diseases.
Ms. Yacine Djibo, Executive Director, Speak Up Africa, commented:
“NTDs affect the most vulnerable members of society, and whilst there has been remarkable progress in recent years, collaborative action through cross-country meetings like this one in Ethiopia go a long way in achieving even greater success against this group of diseases. By opening the dialogue and utilizing shared resources like the new No to NTD platform, we will be able to beat these diseases once and for all.”