Growing Gap in Global Malaria Efforts Calls for Renewed Leadership

Growing Gap in Global Malaria Efforts Calls for Renewed Leadership

Tremendous gains reducing malaria cases and deaths since 2000 now in jeopardy. Nigeria, DRC and Rwanda top the list of high-burden countries, while Sri Lanka, Senegal and Madagascar show success is possible

Geneva (29 November 2017) Unprecedented global progress in fighting malaria since 2000 is at stake unless countries redouble their efforts, according to the latest figures released by the World Health Organization (WHO) today.

The World Malaria Report 2017 shows fragile and uneven progress in global efforts against malaria, an entirely preventable and treatable disease, which puts half the world’s population at risk and costs a child’s life every two minutes.

According to the report, malaria-related cases and deaths worldwide stand at 216 million and 440,000 respectively, a flatline in the tremendous gains of the past 16 years in the fight against malaria. The report sends a clear warning that progress could be in jeopardy and resurgence is on the rise.

“Limiting malaria’s devastating impact on families, communities and countries has been one of the global health success stories of our time. Since 2000, thanks to significant investment, strong political leadership and new tools, we have saved nearly 7 million lives from this deadly disease. Today, we have an opportunity to save millions more by renewing our resolve and commitment, as a global community, to end malaria for good,” said Dr Winnie Mpanju-Shumbusho, Chair of the Board of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

Achievement of global targets at risk

The first of the global targets on the path towards achieving a vision of a malaria-free world is to reduce malaria cases and deaths by 40% by 2020 over 2015. If current trends continue, this and other elimination targets will be largely missed.

“A plateau in global funding has contributed to gaps in coverage of life-saving interventions, and it will only worsen if countries don’t make malaria a priority. We need global and domestic funding to step up if we are to double the malaria investment to meet the US$ 6.4 billion-a-year need by 2020. Staying focused on ending malaria will help achieve global commitments to end all communicable diseases and strengthen health systems,” said Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria.

Growing gap between countries

The report shows a growing gap between high-burden countries, many of which have seen a greater than 20% increase in malaria cases and deaths, and those that are on the path towards malaria elimination. Rwanda has seen the greatest increase in malaria cases since last year — around 1 million, while Madagascar has the greatest decrease of more than 800,000.

Two African countries — Nigeria and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) — account for 37% of global malaria burden and require the biggest investment in tackling malaria over the coming years.

According to the latest RBM Partnership gap analysis, between now and 2020, DRC will require an additional 23 million long-lasting insecticide-treated bed nets (LLINs) and an extra US$ 536 million to sufficiently protect its population from malaria. Nigeria, in turn, will need around 72 million additional LLINs and faces a funding gap of US$ 690 million between now and 2020 for procurement and delivery of essential commodities alone. Currently, 13 Nigerian states have no dedicated funding to fight malaria.

Meanwhile, countries such as Senegal and Sri Lanka are showing that beating malaria is possible. Sri Lanka was certified as malaria-free by WHO in 2016, a milestone largely achieved through domestic financing. Senegal has seen its malaria cases decrease by around 250,000 since last year, and is among a handful of countries that have upped their per capita spending on malaria in the same period. A nationwide malaria campaign “Zero malaria starts with me” is engaging Senegalese citizens to keep malaria high on the agenda.

“When we put our mind to it, we can effectively control malaria and even eliminate it once and for all here in Senegal and beyond. Communicable diseases like malaria know no borders and Senegal will need to strengthen its current collaboration with neighbouring countries to defeat the disease together,” said Prof. Awa Coll Seck, Senegal’s Minister of State and an RBM Partnership to End Malaria Board Member.

New and emerging threats call for new responses

Between 2000 and 2015, funding and the widespread uptake of new effective tools like artemisinin-based therapies, better diagnostics and insecticide-treated bed nets, led to a 60% decrease in malaria deaths. However, new responses are needed to address growing concerns over drug resistance in the Mekong region, insecticide resistance in large areas of Africa, as well as an upsurge of malaria in humanitarian hotspots including Yemen and Venezuela.

“More investment is needed to increase the effectiveness of current tools and hasten development of new tools such as next generation insecticides, drugs and vaccines to stay ahead of rising resistance,” said Dr Altaf Lal, Senior Advisor on Global Health and Innovation, Sun Pharmaceuticals Industries and RBM Partnership to End Malaria Board Member.

Call for renewed global leadership in 2018

In April 2018, the global community will have an opportunity to come together to renew and reinforce its commitment to end malaria. A High-Level Event on Malaria, during the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, accompanied by a public campaign, will convene leaders across government, business, science and beyond to take bold action in the malaria fight.

Meanwhile, a “Multilateral Initiative on Malaria” Conference in Dakar will bring together scientists and malaria experts from around the world to advance the next generation of research and innovation needed to accelerate progress against the disease.

For more information: Xenya Scanlon, RBM Partnership to End Malaria, +41 79 520 3637, xenya.scanlon@rollbackmalaria.com, rollbackmalaria.com, #endmalaria

About the RBM Partnership to End Malaria

The RBM Partnership to End Malaria is the largest global platform for coordinated action against malaria. Originally established as Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership in 1998, it mobilises for action and resources and forges consensus among partners. The Partnership is comprised of more than 500 partners, including malaria endemic countries, their bilateral and multilateral development partners, the private sector, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, foundations, and research and academic institutions.

Universal access to sanitation, a human right recognized by the United Nations since 2010

Universal access to sanitation, a human right recognized by the United Nations since 2010

"4.5 billion people around the world still do not have access to improved sanitation services in 2017. Sanitation remains a major challenge around the world knowing that 80% of the world’s wastewater is released daily into the environment with no appropriate treatment. As November 19 marked World Toilet Day, Speak Up Africa would like to take this perfect opportunity to highlight the work of Ms. Lena Tall Faye, one of the very few women leading incredible work on sanitation in Senegal.” 

For Lena Tall Faye, Sanitation Isn’t Just a Business, It’s a Calling

As a young girl growing up in the Sine Saloum region of Senegal, Lena Tall Faye experienced first-hand the indignities and dangers of being without safe sanitation. Like most women and girls in Africa, Lena was responsible for maintaining the family’s rudimentary facilities and ensuring good hygiene as best she could. When the manual emptier showed up to dispose of her village’s waste, she and her seven siblings knew how important it was to stay away. They understood that severe illnesses could arise from exposure to that waste, which could be devastating to their family.

Fast forward 20 years later, and Faye is now at the forefront of bringing safe sanitation to Senegal and the entire African continent. As founder and CEO of Delta and one of the most successful woman leader in West Africa’s sanitation sector, she’s not only providing dependable, affordable sanitation services to millions of people, she’s also playing a pivotal role in revolutionizing the way African countries deal with their waste.

Determined to Be a Dependable Provider

From the very beginning of her life, Faye exhibited an unwavering dedication to her family. As the oldest child, she felt responsible for helping her hardworking mother, “a brave, uneducated woman, a housewife and mother of eight children who did everything in her power for us to live in good conditions,” according to Lena. While she very much wanted to complete her education, Faye decided to quit middle school and train in the area of dactylography, the study of fingerprints. That led to a job at a local bank.

But working at the bank didn’t provide the kind of security Lena wanted. After a few years, the bank decided to restructure and announced a series of layoffs. Every three months, a group of staffers were let go. “Each time I felt this sword of Damocles hanging over my head, knowing that one day, I could wake up and just lose my job. This unbearable feeling and this untenable situation triggered me, and I realized I could not sit idly by, waiting to be fired and unable to support my family.”

That’s when Lena’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in. While still holding down her position at the bank, she went to the Dakar Chamber of Commerce and created a cleaning company called Delta. She did it without a loan and without financial help from her family. Her first assignment was to provide general maintenance to a large school, which she did by hiring contract workers.

Contributing to the Greater Good

Being a woman with tremendous drive, Lena knew she wanted to expand her business, and that’s when she looked to the sanitation sector. “I often saw draining trucks around my place of work. At home, we had manual emptying, so I was familiar with the draining process. I said to myself, why not invest in this sector? Not only to make money, but also to contribute to improving people’s living conditions.”

And that’s exactly what she did. She began by investing in a single emptying truck, but every time it broke down, the business would come to a halt and she’d have to rent trucks to satisfy her customers. So she got a second truck. Then more contracts led to a third truck. “The more you eat, the bigger your appetite. Therefore, the more trucks I bought,” Lena explained. She now has 20 trucks and between 100 and 200 employees at any given time.

What started as a determination to support her family eventually became a commitment to providing much-needed employment to members of her community, along with a better, safer living environment. “Sanitation is a calling, Lena said. “It’s not just about making money, but also contributing to the good health of people.”

On the Cutting Edge of Waste Management

That calling led to Delta joining a consortium of septic tank emptying companies known as Delvic, which was selected by the Senegalese government to partner with ONAS, the national sanitation utility, to manage the nation’s four faecal sludge treatment plants. Under Lena’s leadership, this private entity has helped dramatically improve the management, efficiency and profitability of the treatment plants.

What’s more, Delvic focuses on the entire sanitation value chain, from collection to treatment to enhancement of the sludge. Working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Delvic is overseeing the test site for the world’s first Omniprocessor, a groundbreaking waste treatment plant that turns raw sewage into drinking water, as well as ash that can be used as a soil amendment and electricity. With diseases due to poor sanitation causing about 700,000 African children to die each year, the Omniprocessor is an opportunity to combat those deaths while also producing lifesaving drinking water and other high-quality goods.

How to Succeed as a Woman in a Man’s World

Knowing how critical—and lucrative—the sanitation sector is, Lena is vocal about encouraging more women to get involved. But she’s also the first to point out that trying to make inroads in such a male-dominated industry is extremely difficult.  “You have to fight, have willpower, accept failure, then get right up,” she advises her fellow women. “And above all, be psychologically and mentally strong.”

 

 

 

We're looking for a Consultant to Develop an Advocacy Guide for NTDs Control and Elimination!

We're looking for a Consultant to Develop an Advocacy Guide for NTDs Control and Elimination!

About Speak Up Africa:

Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, Speak Up Africa is a communications and advocacy organization dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa.

The success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has infused the continent with a new sense of vibrancy - from commercial promise to population increasingly connected - Africa’s pulse has quickened. In the new era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Speak Up Africa strives to promote a shift in African leadership and accountability and create an enabling environment for sustainable change.

Duration of contract: 30 days

BACKGROUND

Every year, more than 170 000 people are killed by NTDs. Today, these dangerous and destructive diseases affect 1.58 billion people globally, 39% whom live in Africa. They immensely impact the life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and their communities. In an effort to raise the profile of NTDs and their burden at the national level, Speak Up Africa focuses on advocating for increased funding and stronger political commitment, and pushing forward the policies and interventions by demonstrating that NTD control and elimination are critical to the economic development of endemic countries. Speak Up Africa’s objective is to help provide the technical advice and advocacy tools necessary for affected countries to take full advantage of all the resources and funding available to reach the goal of NTD control and elimination in Africa.

Speak Up Africa is looking for a consultant to develop a guide including advocacy and resource mobilization guidance for technical implementers, as well as for local and national governments. The guide will include a number of best-practice case studies, key advocacy and resource mobilization messages, as well as a number of templates for communication.

OBJECTIVE

The objective of the assignment is to provide countries affected by NTDs with a repository of advocacy tools to mobilize resources for NTD control and elimination.

The advocacy guide should be an easy and straightforward tool which support users’ advocacy efforts in the fight against NTDs in their own context. This will include the following resources for advocates and implementers at the country level:

  • A technical implementers guide to advocating for increased NTD resources at country level. A guide specifically for technical implementers so they can effectively mobilize resources in their own countries. This resource will describe the roles, responsibilities and suggested actions for local and national governments; donors; private sector; academic/research institutions; professional associations and civil society.
  • Traditional and innovative financing streams. This section will provide tools and resources that local and national governments can consider for resource mobilization. This includes easy-to-understand information on a variety of funding initiatives including advocating for NTD funding allocations within development bank financing structures, taxes, bonds as well as private sector financing platforms.
  • Case studies, detailing specific country initiatives that have successfully mobilized resources in Africa and beyond.
  • Key messages to mobilize domestic resources in affected countries.
  • Templates for communication (Op-eds, press releases etc.).

EXPECTED ACTIVITIES

Under the overall guidance of Speak Up Africa’s Program Officer, the consultant will advise on the product positioning of the advocacy guide, develop and draft its content and produce the document.

Specifically, the consultant will undertake the following tasks:

  • Research
    • Compile existing content components for the guide from partners
    • Interview partners, collate input, research new content
  • Analysis
    • Identify and present best practices
    • Select case studies detailing specific country initiatives
    • Extract summary recommendations
  • Drafting
    • Propose a compelling name for the advocacy guide
    • Draft the guide in form of a report
    • Prepare guidelines on updating the guide on a regular basis
  • Production
    • Prepare a high-quality and user-friendly report

DELIVERABLES

  • A timeline of work and progress, including milestones.
  • One well-written step-by-step guide explaining the tools and practices to be used for NTD advocacy for resource mobilization in endemic countries.
  • The document is expected to include best practice cases, a final synthesis, and key recommendations.
  • The guide will be prepared in English.

The consultant is expected to have a professional approach to time and deadlines.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Education: A Master’s degree in political science, public health or economics.
  • Experience: A minimum of seven years’ work experience in advocacy, policy making and/or research.
  • Familiarity with the global public health sector, in particular in Africa.
  • Proven analytical skills.
  • Skills in conducting qualitative research.
  • Fluency in English with excellent writing skills. Fluency in French is desired.
  • A demonstrated publications record, covering research, policy and technical areas. The consultant must be able to work independently and as part of a team, have strong interpersonal skills and be able to identify, understand and accommodate the objectives of different stakeholders. The consultant should be able to plan and organize work and deliver outputs according to agreed milestones. 

The application deadline is Thursday 7th December 2017.

Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Applicants that fulfil the above requirements are requested to submit a CV, a sample of previous work, proposed timeline for the consultancy and daily rate, and references by email to kadiatou.sylla@speakupafrica.org

Signature par l’Association des maires du Sénégal (AMS) du « Pacte d’engagement pour l’élimination du paludisme au Sénégal »

Signature par l’Association des maires du Sénégal (AMS) du « Pacte d’engagement pour l’élimination du paludisme au Sénégal »

Communiqué de presse - Entre 2001 et 2013, la forte intensification des interventions de lutte antipaludique a contribué à réduire l’incidence mondiale de 30 % et à faire reculer de 47 % le taux de mortalité au niveau mondial, évitant ainsi, selon les estimations, 4,3 millions de décès. Aussi, dans la région Afrique de l’OMS, ce taux a baissé de 58 % chez les enfants de moins de 5 ans.

Conformément à la vision du plan mondial de lutte contre le paludisme et aux directives de l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS), le Sénégal a mis à l’échelle les interventions à efficacité prouvée pour avoir un impact significatif et durable sur la morbidité et la mortalité palustres.

En effet, on observe une baisse en 2015 de plus de 65% des cas et de plus de 70% des décès dus au paludisme par rapport à 2000  et entre 2009 et 2015, la prévalence parasitaire est passée de 3% à 1,2%.

Le Sénégal est caractérisé par une zone en pré élimination au nord du pays et une zone de contrôle dans certaines régions du pays où le fardeau de la maladie est toujours lourd et les décès qui lui sont attribuables persistent.

Des défis demeurent encore, notamment l’accès universel aux interventions majeures et la mise en œuvre d’interventions spécifiques selon les zones épidémiologiques pour aller vers la pré élimination en 2020 et vers l’élimination en 2030.

Le Sénégal est sur la voie de l’élimination et les enjeux sont énormes en termes de mobilisation des ressources domestiques et de mobilisation citoyenne pour faire de l’élimination du paludisme une réalité.

L’élimination du paludisme est caractérisée par l’interruption de la transmission locale d’un parasite du paludisme dans une zone géographique définie. La rapidité des progrès dépendra de la solidité du système national de santé, du niveau d’investissement consenti pour la lutte contre le paludisme et d’un certain nombre d’autres éléments, y compris des facteurs biologiques et environnementaux, et les réalités sociales, démographiques, politiques et économiques de chaque pays.

Un engagement politique continu, des ressources suffisantes et des partenariats efficaces sont nécessaires au succès des programmes d’élimination du paludisme.

C’est l’une des raisons pour lesquelles, le Programme National de Lutte contre le Paludisme avait lancé en 2014 la campagne « zéro palu, je m’engage » en partenariat avec Speak Up Africa et MACEPA/PATH. Le « Pacte d’engagement pour l’élimination du paludisme au Sénégal» entre dans ce cadre et a pour objectif de placer la lutte pour l’élimination du paludisme au cœur des débats politiques et de la mobilisation citoyenne.

Pour ce faire, le Programme National de Lutte contre le Paludisme organisera, en partenariat avec Speak Up Africa et PATH, une cérémonie de signature du « Pacte d’engagement pour l’élimination du paludisme au Sénégal » avec l’Association des Maires du Sénégal (AMS) ce vendredi 17 Novembre 2017 à 10 H 00  à l’hôtel NOVOTEL Dakar.

Le pacte d’engagement

Le pacte d’engagement pour l’élimination du paludisme au Sénégal représente une opportunité d’engager une profonde mutation de gestion de la santé et du paludisme en particulier en s’appuyant sur la mobilisation collective. C’est dans ce contexte que le Cadre de Concertation des Partenaires de la lutte contre le paludisme propose que cette mutation s’organise autour d’un « Pacte d’engagement pour l’élimination du paludisme au Sénégal ».

Global fight against neglected tropical diseases hits one billion milestone

Global fight against neglected tropical diseases hits one billion milestone

International NGO Sightsavers and partners have taken one step closer to reaching the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) as they celebrate hitting an historic milestone - the delivery of their cumulative one billionth supported treatment to people affected by these painful and poverty-trapping infections.

The billionth treatment was administered today (Thursday 16th November) to a seven-year-old girl named Dorcas, who was at risk of NTDs in Kudaru, a community in Kaduna State, Nigeria. It was a combined treatment for onchocerciasis (river blindness) and lymphatic filariasis (LF) as part of one of Sightsavers flagship programmes, UNITED, which is funded by UK aid. She received this treatment alongside her grandfather, Simon, made blind from river blindness decades before.

NTDs are a group of painful and debilitating infections that affect more than one billion of the poorest people across the globe. They are most prevalent in developing countries and can cause severe and lifelong physical impairment, trapping individuals, families and whole communities in a cycle of poverty and social isolation.

Simon Bush, Director of NTDs, Sightsavers, said: “NTDs impact some of the world's poorest people but it doesn’t have to be this way. Our collaboration with communities, ministries of health in endemic countries, donors, other NGOs and academic institutions shows that these diseases can be prevented, treated and, ultimately, eliminated.”

But whilst significant progress is being made, there are still considerable challenges which need to be faced and work that needs to be done to fully eliminate NTDs for good.

“We need to continue to work in partnership to strengthen healthcare systems from the inside and ensure support is given to the people who need it - together, we want to tackle the problems at the root of NTDs, which are the sorts of things many of us take for granted, like access to clean water, sanitation facilities and education,” he added.

Sightsavers works with around 300 partners to support NTD programmes in 29 countries, treating five diseases: trachoma, river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, intestinal worms and schistosomiasis.

NTDs can be treated in several ways, through a combination of drugs, surgery and hygiene behavioural change programmes. In many cases these NTDs can be treated together through integrated treatment programmes.

The one billionth milestone celebrates the one billion drug treatments Sightsavers and partners have given to individuals and whole communities at risk of NTDs.

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About Sightsavers
Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities. www.sightsavers.org 

 

Kuwait Fund and WHO in $4million multi-year agreement to tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa

Kuwait Fund and WHO in $4million multi-year agreement to tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa

Kuwait City, 24 October 2017 - Efforts to control and eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in African countries got a major boost this week, with the announcement of a $4 million donation from the Kuwait Fund.

The announcement was made at a Donors’ meeting on how to end NTDs, hosted by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa.

NTDs are a diverse group of communicable diseases that prevail in tropical and subtropical conditions.

Speaking at the event WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said: “We are grateful to KFAED and other partners for their generous donation which will contribute enormously to the fight against NTDs. Elimination of these diseases will give rise to healthier, happier and more productive people and economies globally, particularly in Africa”.

The meeting was attended by leaders from the Middle East, African Health ministries, NGOs, the private sector, global donors, philanthropic organizations, and other stakeholder.  It brought together an extended network of funders and other stakeholders committed to supporting the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN), a five year project which was launched by the WHO in 2016 to support African countries in tackling the diseases.

The two-day meeting ended today with pledges and renewed commitment by stakeholders to end NTDs across the continent.  

WHO AFRO and the Kuwait Fund Catalyze Global Support to End Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa

WHO AFRO and the Kuwait Fund Catalyze Global Support to End Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait,24 October 2017 - Nearly 60 leaders from Middle East and global governments, the UN, African ministries of health, pharmaceutical companies, non-governmental organizations and the philanthropic community convened in Kuwait City for the "Donors' Meeting to End Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa."

The historic meeting, hosted by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), is the first such meeting to be hosted in the Middle East. It seeks to galvanize new financial and other aligned support to reach global control and elimination goals for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa. 

Africa accounts for nearly 40% of the world's NTD burden, or nearly 600 million of the 1.58 billion people affected by NTDs globally. "The Middle East is uniquely well positioned to make a significant contribution to the fight against NTDs in Africa, given the risk of disease spread from the region and the Middle East's own success in reducing the NTD burden in our region," said KFAED Director General Abdulwahab Al Bader.

This year, the global community marked the fifth anniversary of the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which galvanized unprecedented local, national and global action to end NTDs, including a historic $17.8 billion medicine donation commitment by pharmaceutical companies. This led to increased treatment coverage and reduced the number of people that required treatment for NTDs by 333 million between 2012 and 2015.  

To further accelerate progress on NTDs in Africa, AFRO launched the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases in May 2016 with the support of KFAED and other founding partners. "We are grateful to KFAED for its tremendous leadership and long-standing support for NTD control and elimination. This meeting of development partners is a key moment to celebrate progress, raise awareness of this urgent public health issue, examine the financial needs of the programme and further strengthen partnership opportunities with ESPEN. We hope other partners will follow KFAED's lead and join us in this important fight." said the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.  

The meeting also featured a Call to Action on NTDs by former President of the United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, who underscored that the event was designed to kick off a series of high-profile events to expand the network of partners dedicated to supporting progress on the WHO's 2020 NTD goals. 

Join the global conversation about NTDs on social media by following #BeatNTDs and #لنقضي_عليها.

Neglected Tropical Diseases Can Be Eliminated In Our Lifetime: A Call for Action

Neglected Tropical Diseases Can Be Eliminated In Our Lifetime: A Call for Action

The sight of a young child carrying one end of a stick to lead a blind middle-aged man to beg for alms is a poignant reminder of the debilitating impact of neglected tropical diseases on the health, well-being and dignity of affected people.

Neglected Tropical Diseases (commonly abbreviated as NTDs) are a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases.  They have been eliminated from most of the Middle East region although they still claim more than 170,000 lives each year and affect over 1.58 billion people globally. These diseases are called “neglected” because they afflict the most destitute, vulnerable, and neglected populations. 

Neglected Tropical Diseases cause severe pain, disabilities, deformities, malnutrition, stunted growth, cognitive impairment, social isolation, and humiliation. They also affect a person’s ability to attend school or work. Anemia caused by some NTDs has a direct impact on maternal mortality.

In Tanzania, for example, all 5 of the highest burden NTDs are common. We know all too well the despair and debilitation that comes with each one of these diseases. The stigma, humiliation, and social exclusion can be absolutely traumatic to an individual’s self esteem and mental health well being. 

Economic hardship and cyclical poverty have become synonymous with NTDs.  People in affected countries are unable to work and provide for themselves, or their families, perpetuating the cycle of poverty and being set up for failure not success. The direct negative impact on African economies as a result of these diseases is clear and evident.

We MUST come together in the spirit of “Ubuntu” and togetherness to collectively eliminate these diseases. NTDs are not just an “African problem.” They are a global problem, and we must all share the burden of working towards control and elimination.

The good news is that there is a solution to the PCT NTD problem—low cost, highly effective drugs that can prevent and treat these diseases. The CEOs of the world largest pharmaceutical companies have made these drugs available for free.  And a critical new piece of the puzzle was created last year when the World Health Organization launched the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN). ESPEN draws together the community needed to mobilize the necessary technical expertise, political will, technical, innovative, pharmaceutical, and financial resources to end the scourge of PCT-NTDs for the people of Africa. ESPEN is just one year into its implementation and we are already seeing its results. For example, 30 million people have been reached through direct operational support to mass drug administration in fifteen countries. Just this year, the World Health Organization announced that Togo successfully eliminated lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem.

We are all proud of the fact that the Kuwait Fund, one of the longest standing leaders in the fight against NTDs in Africa, was one of the first donors to support ESPEN. This week, the Kuwait Fund is hosting leaders from the Middle East and other governments, African Ministries of Health, NGOs, the private sector, global donors, philanthropic organizations, and other stakeholder groups to expand the team of partners supporting ESPEN and the fight against NTDs.

The power to succeed in NTD control and elimination lies not just in the hands of African countries and leaders but also in the communities and persons of good will. We are calling upon everyone to join us in the fight against NTDs. On behalf of the most disadvantaged people, it is imperative that we all rise to answer this call and provide the funding and needed resources to eliminate the threat of NTDs.

Each one of us can help empower the people of Africa to win this battle by 2020. It is our sincere hope that everyone will rise to the challenge and do their part. Together, we can make a difference.  As the legendary Nelson Mandela once said: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Let us all heed these words and unite behind the spirit of Ubuntu and our efforts to eliminate NTDs from Africa.

H.E. JAKAYA M. KIKWETE is the former President of the United Republic of Tanzania, 2005-2015. He is an advocate for health including NTDs and Maternal Health.

DR. MATSHIDISO MOETI is the World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa.

ABDULWAHAB AL-BADER is the Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.