Throughout my career, I have supported causes focused on the most marginalized groups – in particular children as they represent our future. Contributing to the improvement of living conditions of our people is so important to me and has a special place in my heart.
I became involved in the fight against malaria years ago, but it was only recently that I learned of the extent of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and their impact on people in Africa and throughout the globe.
With Africa bearing nearly 40 percent of the global NTD burden, it is not surprising that our people are the most at risk and the most impacted. Because of this, we must work together to ensure greater efforts to raise awareness and inform our fellow citizens about these diseases. Our role is to better protect them against these little-known infections.
NTDs, which are easily prevented and treated, often affect the most vulnerable individuals of our society. However, if left untreated they can lead to blindness or disfigurement and can cause severe disabilities.
These are amongst the reasons I have decided to contribute and participate in the search for solutions, through the Youssou Ndour Foundation, to support and act for better living conditions for our children and the most vulnerable populations.
When I learned that 4.4 million people in Senegal don’t have access to the preventive treatment they need to protect them from at least one NTD, I realized the magnitude of the situation. As I learned this, I knew it was urgent to do more to combat them.
The first World NTD Day will raise awareness of the challenges of these diseases, and the opportunities we must collectively embrace to defeat these diseases and alleviate the suffering of those affected.
Together, we can and we must fight and confront this public health problem.
I believe people can rise to the challenge and make incredible progress in the fight against NTDs. Evidence shows that from 2010 to 2016, the number of people at risk of contracting NTDs has decreased by 25%, meaning that more than 400 million people no longer need treatment. I am optimistic that we will see progress in this fight.
Our beautiful continent has shown that when we act together, we are stronger. This fight against NTDs is no different from any other we have faced. I am proud to stand up and speak up against neglected tropical diseases, and I ask you to join me in saying No to NTDs once and for all!
Join the Youssou Ndour Foundation and support the fight against NTDs by signing the Manifesto of the No to NTDs movement, so that together we can achieve an Africa free of neglected tropical diseases.
By Youssou Ndour