The global community will Thursday commemorate the first-ever World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day. The inaugural event, tagged: “#BeatNTDs. For all. For good,” aims to bring together global health experts, policymakers, community leaders, and civil society advocates; to mobilize for greater support and action on ending NTDs around the world.
NTDs are a group of debilitating infectious diseases affecting about 1.7 billion people around the globe. They are reportedly present in 149 countries, largely in Africa, Asia and the Americas, where millions of people live in poverty and without access to adequate sanitation. Consequently, these group of diseases – Onchocerciasis (river blindness), Leprosy, Leishmaniasis (black fever), Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping-sickness), amongst others – disable, disfigure and kill many children and adults while trapping communities in endless cycles of poverty and costing developing economies billions of dollars, annually.
“What sets Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) apart is how they disfigure, disable, and blind millions of people. In many parts of the world, this means facing stigma, discrimination, and social exclusion. Thus, together let’s say no to stigma and NTDs [in Africa],” says a tweet by Speak Up Africa, the Dakar, Senegal-based policy and advocacy action tank working to catalyze dialogues, drive policy changes and create awareness for sustainable development in Africa – in the build up to the inaugural World NTDs Day commemorations.
“The civil society is indispensable in the fight to beat NTDs, from supporting communities, to holding leaders accountable. Wherever decisions are made, we need civil society at the table,” says Speak Up Africa.
In a 2019 interview with African Newspage, Yacine Djibo, the executive director of Speak Up Africa noted that Africa couldn’t fully eliminate NTDs without awareness campaigns such as Speak Up Africa`s ‘No to NTDs’ campaign, launched in 2018, aimed at increasing awareness and prioritization of NTDs in national plans, to accelerate the elimination of the disease in Africa. “The idea is to create a social movement that will allow for NTDs elimination by 2030. And if Africa is to be able to eliminate NTDs, it is of course going to be through awareness – which is part of the campaign we are implementing,” Djibo said.
January 30 marks the 8-year anniversary of the World Health Organisation`s 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which commits pharmaceutical companies, endemic countries, governments, donor agencies, and civil society organizations to work together towards the elimination of NTDs, particularly among the world`s poorest.
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