May 26, 2023, Nyamirama, Rwanda – Following Africa Day, the Basketball Africa League (BAL), Shooting Touch and Speak Up Africa united and organized a basketball and health clinic to equip youth and BAL Ambassadors with the knowledge and tools they need to drive effective change in support of NTD elimination.

Youth engagement is key to influence positive change and harness energy, values-based motivation and social connectedness, in order to spread information, generate innovative solutions and change communal behaviors and norms in favor of national NTD programmes. In its 2021-2030 Roadmap on NTDs, the World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the importance of “mainstreaming the participation of young people across all NTD activities for the attainment of the goals of the road map”.

Young people are one of Africa’s greatest assets. But Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) continue to undermine Africa’s bright future as the continent bears 40% of the global burden of these diseases. NTDs can be devastating, including causing severe pain, disabilities and deformities, malnutrition, stunted growth and cognitive impairment. Anaemia caused by some of these diseases have a direct impact on maternal mortality. NTDs are a set of 20 diseases or disease groups that occur predominantly in tropical and subtropical areas. They include lymphatic filariasis, more commonly known as elephantiasis, onchocerciasis or river blindness, schistosomiasis, or bilharzia, as well as human African trypanosomiasis, often called sleeping sickness.

Rwanda is endemic to Soil-transmitted helminthiasis and schistosomiasis and 4,785,693 individuals require preventive-chemotherapy for at least one NTD. Following Africa Day, the Basketball Africa League, Speak Up Africa and Shooting Touch organized a basketball and health clinic in Nyamirama, Rwanda on the sidelines of the BAL Finals, where 80 youth and women gathered for a basketball and health clinic. With operations between Rwanda and Boston, Shooting Touch is using the power of sport to bridge opportunity gaps for youth and women.

« Today’s sport-for-health event marks an exciting new stage in our partnership with the Basketball Africa League. Along with Speak Up Africa, we were able to leverage the collective knowledge and strengths of all three organizations to increase awareness on Neglected Tropical Diseases among Shooting Touch’s youth and women athletes in Nyamirama. We look forward to continuing our work with Speak Up Africa and the BAL to drive positive health outcomes in Africa. »

Christelle Umuhoza, In-Country Program Director

Serving 1,000+ youth and 2,000+ women in rural Rwanda daily, Shooting Touch beneficiaries break gender norms simply by stepping onto the court. 

As part of their partnership to enhance gender equality and achieve disease elimination, Speak Up Africa and the BAL gathered Boston-based influencer Jamad, ESPN Producer and talent Hannah O’Flynn, actress, model and host Britany Elena and former NBA player, Pops Mensah-Bensu.

« Basketball is a force for change for youth engagement across Africa. Through the power of basketball, we are able to unify Africa and attract, motivate and inspire young Africans to take action and responsibility to improve their health and well-being. It is an enabling platform for conversation and engagement on critical issues outside of sports such as Neglected Tropical Diseases. »

Pops Mensah-Bensu, President of Minor League Operations for the New York Nicks and Basketball Africa League Ambassador.

Dakar-based strategic communications and advocacy not-for-profit organization Speak Up Africa has been saying “No to NTDs” since 2016, working with the World Health Organization office for Africa and creating networks of civil society in Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea and Senegal to accelerate the efforts to end NTDs. Today, the organization is working with partners, including Reaching the Last Mile and the BAL.

« Youth leadership is critical for the elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases. Sports is a unique enabler to capture youth attention and passion. Through sports, and especially basketball, we can elevate youth to unlock their full potential and be agents of change to achieve a healthy and prosperous Africa. »

 Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director of Speak Up Africa

The Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases launched during the Kigali Summit in Rwanda aims to mobilize political will and secure commitments to tackle NTDs, to achieve the targets set for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 and by the World Health Organization. To achieve this, it is essential to have a commitment at all levels, especially from civil society, youth and women organizations.

Addis Ababa, 20 Feb 2023 – The African Union Commission (AUC) and Speak Up Africa have signed on February 20, 2023 an agreement to accelerate the control and elimination of preventable Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and Malaria and strengthen continental advocacy for the local production of medical products. 

The agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), formalises and strengthens the existing relationship between AUC and Speak Up Africa at strategic and continental levels. 

Both actors will focus on supporting health system streghthening for universal health coverage (UHC) and  leverage continental health advocacy towards achievement of agenda 2063 “The Africa We Want” and Sustainable Development Goals. It will result in joint advocacy initiatives aiming at promoting the dissemination and operationalisation of the Continental framework for NTDs through interventions such as Speak Up Africa’s “No to NTDs” movement, the promotion of joint South-South malaria initiatives and the advocacy for the operationalisation of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) in collaboration with the new AMA Secretariat. 

AUC and Speak Up Africa have a shared objective of serving the continental public health agenda including cross cutting issues such as gender and increased accountability. This MoU will ensure closer collaboration between the two organisations and create synergistic actions to achieve the common goals of eliminating NTDs and malaria and promoting universal access to medicines on the African continent. 

« This partnership is fundamental to strengthening health systems in the African Union Member States. As the two organisations have been working closely to improve public health in Africa, the vision is to coordinate further our efforts to improve the efficiency of the performance of our health systems. Together, we will strongly engage political leaders and stakeholders to galvanise political will toward socioeconomic development as premised in the AU Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. »

H.E.Amb.Minata Samate CESSOUMA, Commissioner for Health, Humanitarian Affairs and Social Development, African Union Commission

« I look forward to continuing to build on our constructive collaboration with the African Union Commission in the interest of enhancing resilient and strong health systems that are the basis of disease elimination, equity in access to health as well as better inclusive growth in the medium and long term. »

Yacine Djibo, CEO of Speak Up Africa

Abu Dhabi, UAE. February 2nd, 2023 – Reaching the Last Mile, a portfolio of global health programs driven by the philanthropy of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, today announced the launch of a new initiative designed to mobilize young people to lead efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Africa.

The youth leadership initiative seeks to build a network of youth-led organizations committed to ending NTDs within their communities and countries through national-level advocacy, action, and leadership engagement. Participants in the program will receive funding, mentorship, and resources to support them to engage effectively in decision- and policymaking spaces, and to drive forward their efforts to champion change in their communities.  

The initiative, which will be delivered in partnership with policy and advocacy organization Speak Up Africa, will provide US $250,000 in grants and training to at least 10 youth-led entities within Senegal and Niger over a 15-month period. The supporting network will also act to unify and amplify the voices of youth-led organizations, enabling them to engage with like-minded peers, share knowledge and solutions, and bring learnings back to their own communities.

Commenting on the program, Nassar Al Mubarak of Reaching the Last Mile said: “The potential to eliminate NTDs in Africa is within our grasp. By promoting youth leadership, and by mentoring and motivating a new community of young advocates, we can beat NTDs, save lives, and help protect the health and wellbeing of future generations.”

He continued: “This initiative reflects our leadership’s decades-long focus on disease elimination, and the UAE’s commitment to empowering young people to create a safer, healthier, and more equal world. We look forward to partnering with Speak Up Africa to center the voices of youth and to accelerate progress against NTDs.”

Yacine Djibo, Executive Director at Speak Up Africa, said: “We must step up and continue the path to eliminating these debilitating diseases and their negative effects today. By partnering with Reaching the Last Mile, we can ignite collective action and harness the power of African youth, often overlooked during discussions and decision-making processes, to transform engagement into tangible action so that nobody, anywhere, lives at risk of NTDS. This way, they can step forward and take both leadership and advocacy toward eliminating NTDs.”

NTDs are a group of communicable diseases that are preventable and treatable, yet continue to affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide, including 1 billion children. There are currently 20 diseases and disease groups defined as NTDs by the World Health Organization (WHO), including river blindness (onchocerciasis), leprosy, elephantiasis (lymphatic filariasis), Guinea worm disease, and rabies.

NTDs cause immeasurable suffering – they debilitate, disfigure and can be fatal. By most commonly affecting vulnerable and marginalized populations – who often live in remote communities – NTDs create cycles of poverty and cost developing nations billions of dollars each year. Nearly 40% of the global NTD burden is shouldered by Africa.

The youth leadership initiative is part of wider efforts to drive progress towards the goals of the WHO’s 2030 roadmap on NTDs, which seeks to reduce by 90% the number of people requiring treatment for the diseases; to have 100 countries eliminate at least one NTD; and to eradicate two diseases. To date, 47 countries have eliminated at least one NTD, showing progress is attainable and possible.

The WHO roadmap also calls for the integration of young people across all NTD activities, recognizing youth as key stakeholders able to bring innovative thinking, new solutions, and help mobilize change.

Commenting on the initiative, Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director of the Department of Control of NTDs, WHO, said: « Young people can show us the way as we seek to effect positive change and end the burden of NTDs. Their energy, values, motivation, and connectedness can play a gamechanging role and bring about increased access to NTD interventions. They have a vital role to play too in raising awareness and in spearheading the innovative solutions that will benefit the NTD community worldwide. » 

Reaching the Last Mile’s new commitment closely follows the fourth annual World NTD Day, held on January 30th, which represents an anchor moment for the global movement to end NTDs. World NTD Day was launched in 2019 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and formally recognized by the WHO in 2021, through an effort championed by the UAE and other committed partners. The day acts to galvanize political, financial and public support for the effort to stamp out these diseases and highlights the urgent need for sustained investment and action.

To mark the day, Reaching the Last Mile and Speak Up Africa co-hosted the first in a series of youth talks in Kaolack, Senegal, bringing together young advocates, government leaders, civil society actors and private sector representatives. Through an animated debate, the group explored how young people can best be engaged in decision-making spaces, to help cross the last mile of NTD elimination.

Attendees included Mama Gueye, Health Commission President at Kaolack City Hall, who addressed the crowd and urged youth to share their ideas for combatting NTDs, and the Sengalese artist Bamba Ly Seck, who uses his artwork as a platform to drive awareness and action in support of NTD elimination.

Abu Dhabi, 2 février 2023 – Reaching the Last Mile (RLM), un portefeuille de programmes de santé à l’échelle mondiale soutenu par le philanthrope Son Altesse Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Président des Émirats Arabes Unis, annonce le lancement d’une nouvelle initiative visant à mobiliser les jeunes en faveur de l’élimination des maladies tropicales négligées (MTN) en Afrique.

Cette nouvelle initiative s’emploie à bâtir un réseau d’organisations dirigées par des jeunes engagés dans l’élimination des MTN au sein de leurs communautés et de leurs pays à travers des actions de plaidoyer, au niveau national. Grâce à cette initiative, les organisations bénéficieront d’un financement, d’un programme de mentorat et d’une formation, nécessaires pour contribuer aux instances de prises de décision, participer à l’élaboration de politiques et créer le changement qu’elles envisagent dans leurs communautés.

L’initiative, qui sera mise en œuvre en partenariat avec Speak Up Africa, fournira 250 000 USD en subventions et formations à un minimum de 10 organisations dirigées par des jeunes au Sénégal et au Niger, sur une période de 15 mois. Le réseau de soutien s’attèlera également à unifier et amplifier les voix des organisations dirigées par des jeunes en leur permettant de nouer des liens avec des pairs poursuivant la même vision, partager des connaissances et des solutions, et les faire bénéficier à leurs communautés.

À propos du programme, Nassar Al Mubarak de Reaching the Last Mile déclare ”L’élimination des MTN en Afrique est à notre portée. En promouvant le leadership des jeunes, en les mentorant et en soutenant une nouvelle communauté de jeunes leaders, nous pouvons éradiquer les MTN, sauver des vies et contribuer à protéger la santé et le bien-être des générations futures.”

Le représentant de Reaching the Last Mile poursuit : “Cette initiative est le fruit de plusieurs décennies d’engagement des Émirats Arabes Unies pour l’élimination des MTN et l’émancipation des jeunes pour la création d’un monde plus sûr, plus sain et plus égalitaire. Nous sommes ravis de nous associer à Speak Up Africa pour faire entendre leurs voix et accélérer les progrès en matière d’élimination des MTN. »

Yacine Djibo, Directrice Exécutive de Speak Up Africa, déclare : « Nous devons intensifier nos efforts pour l’élimination de ces maladies débilitantes et leurs effets négatifs. En nous associant à Reaching the Last Mile, nous avons pour ambition de déclencher une action collective et maximiser le pouvoir de la jeunesse africaine, souvent négligée lors des discussions et des processus décisionnels, pour transformer l’engagement en action tangible afin que personne, où que ce soit, ne court le risque d’être affecté par les MTN ».

Les MTN sont un groupe de maladies transmissibles que l’on peut prévenir et traiter, mais qui continuent d’affecter plus de 1,7 milliard de personnes dans le monde, dont un milliard d’enfants. Selon l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS), les MTN sont un groupe de 20 maladies, dont la cécité des rivières (onchocercose), la lèpre, l’éléphantiasis (filariose lymphatique), la maladie du ver de Guinée et la rage.

Les MTN causent des souffrances incommensurables – elles débilitent, défigurent et peuvent être fatales. En touchant le plus souvent les populations vulnérables et marginalisées – qui vivent souvent dans des communautés isolées – les MTN créent des cycles de pauvreté et coûtent chaque année des milliards de dollars aux pays en développement. Près de 40 % de la charge mondiale des MTN est supportée par l’Afrique.

L’Initiative pour le leadership des jeunes s’inscrit dans un cadre plus large visant à se rapprocher des objectifs fixés dans la  feuille de route 2030 de l’OMS sur les MTN, qui vise à réduire de 90 % le nombre de personnes nécessitant un traitement pour ces maladies et éliminer au moins une MTN et deux maladies dans au moins 100 pays. À ce jour, 47 pays ont éliminé au moins une MTN, ce qui montre que les progrès sont réalisables et possibles.

La feuille de route de l’OMS appelle également à l’intégration des jeunes dans toutes les activités liées aux MTN, reconnaissant les jeunes comme des acteurs clés capables d’apporter une pensée innovante, de nouvelles solutions et de contribuer au changement.

Commentant cette initiative, le Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Directeur du département de lutte contre les MTN de l’OMS, a déclaré : « Les jeunes peuvent nous montrer la voie alors que nous cherchons à apporter des changements positifs et à mettre fin au fardeau des MTN. Leur énergie, leurs valeurs, leur motivation et leur connectivité peuvent changer la donne et améliorer l’accès aux interventions contre les MTN. Ils ont également un rôle essentiel à jouer dans la sensibilisation et dans la mise en place de solutions innovantes qui profiteront à la communauté MTN à travers le monde. »  Le nouvel engagement de Reaching the Last Mile coïncide avec la quatrième Journée Mondiale des MTN, qui s’est tenue le 30 janvier. Cette journée représente est un point d’ancrage pour le mouvement mondial visant à mettre fin aux MTN. La Journée mondiale des MTN a été lancée en 2019 par Son Altesse Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed et officiellement reconnue par l’OMS en 2021, grâce à un effort soutenu par les EAU et d’autres partenaires engagés. Cette journée sert à galvaniser le soutien politique, financier et public à l’effort d’éradication des MTN et souligne le besoin urgent d’investissements et d’actions soutenus.

Pour marquer cette journée, Reaching the Last Mile et Speak Up Africa ont co-organisé la première   série de débats de jeunes à Kaolack, au Sénégal, réunissant de jeunes défenseurs, des dirigeants gouvernementaux, des acteurs de la société civile et des représentants du secteur privé. Au travers d’un débat animé, le groupe a exploré les moyens d’impliquer au mieux les jeunes dans les espaces de prise de décision, afin de franchir le dernier kilomètre vers l’élimination des MTN. Parmi les participants figuraient Maman Guèye, présidente de la commission de la santé de l’hôtel de ville de Kaolack, qui s’est adressée à la foule et a exhorté les jeunes à partager leurs idées pour lutter contre les MTN, ainsi que l’artiste Bamba Ly Seck, qui utilise ses œuvres d’art comme plateforme pour sensibiliser et agir en faveur de l’élimination des MTN.

Réunis autour du Sommet de la Francophonie à Djerba, plusieurs experts francophones ont appelé les leaders et les structures de l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie à accélérer la mise en œuvre de leurs engagements pris lors du sommet de Yerevan en 2018. 

Organisée au pavillon du Sénégal sous le thème “Renouveler l’engagement pour lutter contre les MTN en Afrique francophone” la table ronde a réuni des principales parties prenantes des maladies tropicales négligées. Cette table ronde a enregistré la présence de personnalités éminentes notamment Ndioro Ndiaye, Coordonnatrice du Réseau Francophone pour l’Éalité Femme-Homme de l’OIF, Dr. Jean Jannin, Président de la Société Francophone de Médecine Tropicale et Santé Internationale, Professeur Issiaka Sombie, Directeur par intérim de la Direction de la santé publique et de la recherche à l’Organisation Ouest Africaine de la Santé, Docteur Abdellatif Fakhfakh, expert en organisation internationale à la mission permanente des Emirates Arabes Unies auprès des Nations Unis à Genève, Docteur Odry Agbessi, directrice exécutive de l’ONG “Vie Ma Vie”, Madame Hantasoa Fida Cyrille, conseillère diplomatique du Président du Sénat de Madagascar et Monsieur Jacques Krabal le secrétaire général de l’assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, qui a milité pour la démocratisation des vaccins en Afrique. 

Rappelons que parmi les 26 pays de l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) en Afrique subsaharienne, où le fardeau des MTNs est particulièrement lourd, plus de 200 millions de personnes, ou à peu près deux sur trois individus, sont à risque de contracter une MTN.

Ndioro Ndiaye, Coordonnatrice du Réseau Francophone pour l’Éalité Femme-Homme de l’OIF, pour raviver le soutien des États membres à la résolution de 2018 dans le contexte de la Déclaration de Kigali. Madame Ndiaye a mis l’accent sur l’importance de partir en action pour activer la résolution adoptée par l’OIF, assurer son suivi et son évolution.

De son côté, Dr. Jean Jannin,Président de la Société Francophone de Médecine tropicale et Santé Internationale, est revenu sur les origines des MTN en soulignant le lien entre la pauvreté, les maladies tropicales négligées et les droits de l’homme notamment les femmes et les enfants. Il a ainsi rappelé l’importance de l’accès aux vaccins et aux médicaments. L’accès aux médicaments des vingts maladies tropicales négligées sont disponibles gratuitement et distribués soit par les extérieurs ou les équipes de l’Organisation Mondiales de la Santé (OMS). Il a confirmé également que l’élimination est faisable, mais en tenant compte de la durabilité, en s’adaptant à l’approche francophone dans la lutte des MTN.

De même, Professeur Issiaka Sombie, Directeur par intérim de la Direction de la santé publique et de la recherche à l’Organisation Ouest Africaine de la Santé, a rappelé de l’importance de tirer des leçons des expériences précédentes pour lutter contre les MTN en mettant l’accent sur l’importance de la recherche pour améliorer les diagnostics.  Des projets de coopération ont d’ailleurs été mis en place dont l’objectif est la restructuration des institutions et la mise en œuvre du traitement sur le terrain. Selon professeur Sombie, l’objectif de son institution est de créer une plateforme régionale et coordonner entre les différentes parties afin de partager les expériences et déduire les leçons nécessaires.

À propos du renforcement politique des pays dans la lutte des MTN, Docteur Abdellatif Fakhfakh, expert en organisation internationale à la mission permanente des Emirates Arabes Unies auprès des Nations Unis à Genève, a souligné le rôle primordial joué par la francophonie afin de sensibiliser les pays de la résolution en tenant compte du rôle des Emirates Arabes Unies en tant que pays observateur. La synergie entre les différents acteurs notamment les partenaires privés est essentielle, a déclaré Dr. Fakhfakh.

Ayant participé à la rédaction et l’adoption de la résolution de lutte contre les MTN,  Madame Hantasoa Fida Cyrille, conseillère diplomatique du Président du Sénat de Madagascar, a souligné l’importance de ce événement pour mesurer l’impact de cette résolution après quatre ans de son adoption, ainsi qu’une opportunité de dresser un bilan des succès et des lacunes dans l’élimination des MTN. Mis à part les conditions de vie et la pauvreté, Madame Cyrille a relevé le changement climatique comme principale facteur affectant la réalisation des objectifs de cette résolution.

Docteur Odry Agbessi, directrice exécutive de l’ONG “Vie Ma Vie”, a également confirmé l’importance de l’appropriation des programmes nationaux selon une approche collaborative, en sortant du cadre médical et en impliquant tous les acteurs de la société civile. 

L’événement a été clôturé par l’annonce et la consolidation des recommandations d’experts qui devront raviver le débat autour de ces maladies évitables et dangereuses et motiver les engagements politiques pour leurs éliminations en Afrique francophone.

Le Programme National de Lutte contre les maladies tropicales négligées (PNLMTN), a organisé, du 26 au 29 septembre à Koudougou, une rencontre d’information et de sensibilisation des Responsables de la Promotion de la Santé (RPS).  Cette rencontre organisée avec l’appui de Speak Up Africa a permis de renforcer les compétences de quarante Responsables de la Promotion de la Santé, acteurs incontournables de la lutte contre les maladies tropicales négligées au Burkina Faso

Sur les 20 maladies tropicales négligées (MTN) classées par l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS), 19 sévissent actuellement au Burkina Faso. En 2019, 2,92 millions de personnes ont reçu un traitement contre ces maladies.

Afin d’atteindre l’objectif d’élimination de ces MTN d’ici à 2030 dans le cadre des Objectifs de Développement Durable (ODD), les actions individuelles et collectives des différents acteurs impliquées dans la lutte contre ces maladies doivent être renforcées. 

« Acteurs clés de la sensibilisation et la promotion de la santé au niveau communautaire, l’appui des responsables de la Promotion de la Santé (RPS) est capital pour la mise en œuvre des stratégies additionnelles de sensibilisation et pour l’adhésion des populations aux traitements de masse lors des campagnes de distribution des médicaments pour les 5 MTN à chimiothérapie préventive. Les RPS ont aussi un rôle à jouer pour le renforcement du plaidoyer pour la mobilisation des ressources internes pour soutenir les efforts du gouvernement et des partenaires. »

Mme Sawadogo Christine,
responsable de l’Unité communication du Programme national de lutte contre les MTN du Burkina Faso.  

Au cours de ces trois (03) jours d’échange, les différents chefs d’unités du programme ont renforcé les connaissances et compétences des participants sur les stratégies de lutte, les acquis, les défis et les perspectives de la lutte contre les 5 MTN endémiques au Burkina Faso. Il s’agit de la filariose lymphatique, l’onchocercose, la schistosomiase, les vers intestinaux et le trachome qui sont évitables par la chimio-prévention. La stratégie de lutte contre ces 5 MTN consiste en l’administration de masse de médicaments aux populations vivant dans les zones touchées par ces maladies, durant des campagnes périodiques.

La formation en plaidoyer et communication stratégique fournie par Speak Up Africa a visé à renforcer la collaboration entre les Responsables de la Promotion de la Santé, le programme et ses partenaires afin d’intensifier les efforts de sensibilisation des communautés mais aussi le  plaidoyer pour la priorisation et la mobilisation des ressources pour l’élimination des MTN d’ici à 2030. 

Contrairement aux 3 maladies mortelles que sont le paludisme, le SIDA et la tuberculose, Les MTN figurent dans les priorités de santé mais ne bénéficient pas d’allocation budgétaire adéquate au sein des budgets nationaux.

« À travers cette formation, notre ambition est d’accroître la masse critique d’acteurs engagés pour soutenir les efforts pour l’élimination des MTN en tant que problème de santé publique dans notre pays. Nantis de ces connaissances et surtout des succès et défis à relever, nous avons bon espoir que les nouvelles compétences en plaidoyer et communication stratégiques données aux RPS nous permettront ensemble d’accompagner le gouvernement pour l’atteindre des objectifs du pays sur ce chantier. »

Roukiattou Ouédraogo,
coordonnatrice nationale de Speak Up Africa au Burkina Faso

Ahead of the Kigali Summit of Malaria and NTDs held on the sidelines of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), Speak Up Africa hosted a Twitter chat on “How to eliminate malaria and NTDs in Africa”. The discussion highlighted the work of civil society organizations involved in the March to Kigali campaign and made a case for the need to further integrate NTDs and Malaria programming into health services.

Yacine Djibo, Executive Director of Speak Up Africa, joined civil society, global health and business leaders Salomon Dopavogui, Directeur de Jeunesse Secours; Moses Sorie Kodah, Director of NAYE; Zadok Kwame Gyesi, Journalist, Graphic Online; Dr. Odry Fifonsi Agbessi, Director, Via-Me and Elisa Desbordes-Cisse, COO, Ecobank Foundation. Together, they further articulated the need to reaffirm commitments to end these entirely preventable and treatable diseases causing untold suffering and misery to billions of people.

With the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) fast approaching, panelists suggested there was a need for more effective partnerships between governments, the civil society and the private sector. Furthermore, they called for the replenishment of the Global Fund and urged the government to increase spending and commitments towards an integrated approach to malaria and NTD elimination.

Zadok Kwesi tweeted :

« We should combine efforts across sectors, countries and expertise. The March to Kigali campaign builds on #NotoNTDs & #ZeroMalariaStartswithMe campaigns to collectively encourage the commitment needed to eliminate #Malaria & #NTDs by the SDGs deadline in 2030. »

Yacine Djibo tweeted :

« The Kigali Summit is a unique opportunity for global leaders to accelerate action to eliminate malaria and NTDs. By replenishing the Global Fund by a minimum of US$ 18 billion, it is projected that countries and partners can reduce malaria deaths by 62%. »

During the Twitter chat, panelists explained how ongoing activities across Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Niger, and Uganda, were contributing to eliminating malaria and NTDs. These activities ranged from community engagements and celebrity campaigns to raising awareness and training youth leaders to contribute to health advocacy.

Elisa Desbordes-Cisse tweeted :

« We launched the Zero Malaria Business Initiative where we contributed US$ 120,000 in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal and Uganda. We continue encouraging other private sector companies to join this initiative ».

Salomon Dopavogui tweeted :

« Guinea is endemic to 8 NTDs and malaria. To fight against these scourges, which are an obstacle to well-being, education and economic development, we necessarily put more emphasis on the mass distribution of drugs and mosquito nets. »

The panel called for more significant initiatives to ensure these diseases do not burden future generations, such as taking gender-inclusive approaches and involving young people to lead the charge in eliminating these diseases. 

Dr. Odry Fifonsi Agbessi tweeted :

« We must take an inclusive approach to identify, implement, monitor and evaluate malaria and NTD projects and programs while taking into account gender and the specific needs of the population (people with reduced mobility, young men and women and the elderly. »

Moses Sorie Kodah tweeted

« Young people are the change-makers who can accelerate action to eliminate #malaria & #NTDs. We train youth advocates & under the #MalariaNoMore campaign work with leading artists in Sierra Leone to produce music to raise awareness about malaria. »

Every two minutes, an African child dies from malaria. The continent accounts for over 90% of global malaria deaths and over 40 per cent of the global burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). The Kigali Summit is a historic opportunity for world leaders to reaffirm commitments to end malaria and NTDs.

The March to Kigali, a campaign led by a group of like-minded civil society organizations from across Africa and supported by Speak Up Africa has garnered the engagement of over 300 signatories. The campaign urges global leaders to prioritize the elimination of malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at the Kigali summit, which takes place today, alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

With these diseases disproportionately affecting the vulnerable members of society and adversely impacting Africa’s economic and social development, the March to Kigali campaign garners global attention to accelerate action to end malaria and NTDs on the continent. 

Every two minutes, an African child dies from malaria. The continent accounts for over 90% of global malaria deaths and over 40 per cent of the global burden of NTDs is in Africa. Efforts to eliminate these diseases are stifled by inadequate health systems and limited programme funding coupled with less attention and prioritization on the global and regional stage. 

This Kigali Summit presents a historic opportunity for world leaders to reaffirm commitments to end these diseases and their untold suffering and misery on billions of people. Through the March to Kigali campaign, we call for domestic resource mobilization for increased and sustained resources aligned with the co-financing requirements of The Global Fund amounting to US$18 billion required to get the world back on track toward building resilient and sustainable systems for health.

« The March to Kigali campaign acknowledges the strength of the Kigali Summit in convening key decision-makers to bring united global attention to malaria and NTDs. These diseases are entirely treatable and preventable but are still a major obstacle to economic and social development in Africa, affecting the most marginalized populations. »

Yacine Djibo, Founder and Executive Director of Speak Up Africa.

The campaign also calls for a renewed focus on integrating malaria and NTDs control and elimination. Multi-disease solutions can potentially improve healthcare system financing efficiencies with existing integration opportunities to benchmark on. For example, Senegal’s National Malaria and Control Program rationalize efforts and costs by using its platform to collect data on both diseases.

The March to Kigali campaign builds on the existing partnerships and platforms of the « No To NTDs », and « Zero Malaria Starts with Me » campaigns and aims to secure commitments from national and sub-national stakeholders to end these epidemics by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It includes political engagement, private sector engagement, civil society, and youth engagement. Civil society organizations (CSOs) from across Guinea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, and Niger are leading the charge by increasing public awareness and political engagement in eliminating malaria and NTDs. 

In Sierra Leone, twelve leading recording artists released « Malaria e Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han », a music video about malaria prevention and treatment. Community health workers in Sierra Leone also received training to be the first line of defense against these diseases, and over 100,000 malaria rapid testing kits were distributed in Burkina Faso. Additionally, the through « Lines of Impact », initiative the campaign works with African journalists from Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo to develop quality articles on NTDs and malaria.

« Neglected tropical diseases received little attention in the media. Mass media can play a huge role in disseminating information, influencing public behavior, to ultimately curtail the spread of disease… »

Dr Charity Binka, The Executive Secretary of the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) and country lead of the March to Kigali campaign in Ghana.

More than 300 civil society and local organizations, media outlets, and individuals across the continent have signed the ‘March to Kigali’ call to action, demonstrating the incredible commitment at the country and continental level to ending these diseases.

23 June 2022 (Kigali, Rwanda)

By Yacine Djibo, founder and executive director of Speak Up Africa, a nonprofit based in Dakar, Senegal, focused on public health and development in Africa.

“…In a globalized world, you cannot live in isolation; all the problems and solutions are interconnected …”

Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize winner

Health challenges, like many others cannot be addressed in isolation because they are complex and interlinked, not only in themselves but with social and economic problems. Throughout my career in Global Health, I have seen that we often focus efforts on individual disease approaches. Yet, there is much to be gained from a multi-disease approach. The notion that health challenges can be addressed in separate silos can no longer be entertained.

Let’s take malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Both diseases have been with us for too long with debilitating and devastating effects. Despite good progress in scaling up interventions and novel tools, billions of people around the world continue to suffer and die from both diseases – which are entirely preventable and treatable.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of 20 conditions affecting 1.5 billion people. 39% of the burden is in Africa, with 79% of African countries being co-endemic for at least 5 NTDs. Africa also carries the heaviest malaria burden, accounting for approximately 95% of all malaria cases and 96% of all deaths in 2020. About 80% of deaths in the region are among children under five years of age. We lose one child every two minutes to malaria.

The challenge is how to make better progress on tackling malaria and NTDs together. The answers require integrating the tools for detection and elimination. Multi-disease approaches are known to work; they also encourage significant efficiencies, value for money and cost rationalization in the healthcare system. And when we think of healthcare systems across the continent – systems in which the share of global health expenditure is less than 1% while accounting for 25% of the world’s disease burden – taking a multi-disease approach seems logical. Furthermore, reducing the risk of both diseases transmission can be achieved through an integrated approach, “One health” supporting human, animal and environmental development.

The great news is that this solution is within reach. Health experts acknowledge that opportunities exist for integration or convergence of malaria and NTD interventions. Therefore, the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), which takes place alongside the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Rwanda this week, presents a defining moment to secure political support and investment in integrating malaria and NTDs programs, as well as broader healthcare and cross-sectoral programmes.

Using this summit to firm up existing commitments and provide a framework for endemic countries to work from will be crucial. Enhanced integration of malaria and NTDs programs across sectors will unlock the potential of a safer, healthier, more equitable world for everyone.

Senegal, my home country, has made efforts to integrate malaria and NTDs. To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of implementing disease control interventions, Senegal has integrated NTDs and malaria data collection and review. The National Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program (NNTDCP) integrated the quarterly reviews organised by the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) with all health districts and medical regions. Its success lies in the government’s political will to progressively integrate malaria-NTD data and to put in place an official endorsement and formal agreement for the integration of these services.  

Ownership of the project at the ministry level is done through an agreement at the central and decentralized levels. And the commitment of technicians and partners in the sector to carry out the objectives to achieve the integrated review at the national level. When we bring people and resources together, a new opportunity for empowerment and ownership emerges, which makes the Senegal case study different.

Senegal’s malaria-NTD project is already scaling up by integrating the efforts planned for malaria, NTDs and tuberculosis. Lessons learned from this integration have led to the reflection on the development of integrated vector control and mass campaigns implemented by the programmes (Mass Drug Distribution and Chemoprevention of Seasonal Malaria).

While the Kigali Summit is an opportunity to discuss how to turn this broad set of commitments into sustainable action, we must also ensure adequate funding to continue tackling these diseases. We must ensure the Global Fund is fully replenished with a minimum of 18 billion USD.  With this funding, it is projected that countries and partners can reduce malaria deaths by 62%. National governments also need to do more by strengthening the financial sustainability of malaria and NTD programmes to improve the long-term management and elimination of these diseases. And finally, we need to be more inclusive in identifying, implementing, monitoring and evaluating NTD and malaria projects and programs, considering gender aspects and the specific needs of all of the population, people with reduced mobility, women, men, young people, senior citizens. This can be done by effectively implementing primary health care in all endemic countries. 

Diseases do not respect national borders, so countries must work together to control and eliminate infectious health threats like malaria and NTDs. Regional Economic communities should ensure effective cross borders interventions. We must all work together because effective collaboration is critical to scaling up interventions. Many endemic countries are developing and implementing country-specific programmes to end malaria and NTDs.

The March to Kigali campaign is a multi-country approach that brought together like-minded civil society organizations in the lead up to the Kigali Summit to push for more action on NTDs and malaria. The more than 300 signatures from across civil society, private sector, media organisations and individuals is evident of the commitment to leave no one behind in the pursuit to integrate malaria and NTD programs and to secure funding to eliminate these entirely preventable and treatable diseases.

An open letter by the March to Kigali campaign, a civil society coalition backed by over 300 supporters, urges global leaders at the Kigali Summit on malaria and NTDs, to accelerate efforts to eliminate these entirely treatable and preventable diseases. With less than 10 years left to achieve the global sustainable development goals (SDGs), the time is now.

Health systems across Africa face significant setbacks, including inadequate human resources, poor resource allocation to health, poor maintenance of healthcare system infrastructure and lack of political will. These challenges disproportionately affect the most vulnerable members of our society and are a significant obstacle to Africa’s economic and social development. The case of malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) exacerbates such challenges. But limited attention and global health prioritization continue to stifle efforts to eliminate these treatable and preventable diseases today. 

Health data shows Africa accounts for over 40% of the global burden for NTDs, which affect 1.5 billion people worldwide. When it comes to malaria, the continent also accounts for over 90% of global malaria deaths. Furthermore, 79% of African countries are co-endemic for at least 5 NTDs, a diverse group of 20 conditions. Malaria kills an African child every two minutes, with at least 80% of deaths amongst children under five. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened this dire situation, with WHO attributing more malaria cases and deaths in 2020 on the continent due to the pandemic’s disruptions and further strain on health systems. These two diseases can also reverse past gains in controlling other diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis, which are already a massive burden to the continent.

Against this backdrop, we launched the March to Kigali campaign with the support of Speak Up Africa on World Health Day in March 2021. This campaign, led by like-minded civil society organizations across Africa, and supported by over 300 more civil society organizations, media houses, and individuals, demand that our leaders prioritize the elimination of malaria and NTDs. This call-for-action is within the context of the Kigali summit on Malaria and NTDs taking place alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on 23 June 2022.

The March to Kigali aims to stimulate political, private sector, civil society, and youth engagement and secure commitments from national and sub-national stakeholders to end these treatable diseases by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Furthermore, we want to see the successful replenishment of US$18 billion for the Global Fund to get the world back on track to building resilient and sustainable systems. 

Since these diseases impact everyone in Africa, the March to Kigali campaign also targets non-Commonwealth countries in Africa, such as Guinea, Senegal, Benin, and Burkina Faso. The pan-African campaign grew organically from the existing partnerships and platforms of the « No to NTDs » and « Zero Malaria Starts with Me » movements, all aimed at ending the adverse effects of these treatable diseases on the continent. 

Organizations across the continent have made incredible strides in increasing public awareness and engagement on malaria and NTDs by bringing communities together for collective action and mobilizing society to articulate demands and voice concerns at local, national, regional and international levels. Additionally, continental-wide activities such as media campaigns, workshops and training for health workers, and donation of malaria rapid testing kits have provided an opportunity to garner local and global attention to accelerate action to end these preventable and treatable diseases across Africa. 

However, with less than ten years left to achieve the SDGs, we believe the time is now for global leaders at the Kigali Summit to commit to and accelerate action to eliminate malaria and NTDs and prioritize domestic resource mobilization to achieve 2030 WHO NTD Roadmap on NTDs.

We firmly believe that accelerated actions should also focus on integrating malaria and NTDs control and elimination programs and initiatives. Amid the various strains on our health systems, multi-disease solutions can improve the efficiencies in healthcare systems financing on the continent, with opportunities for integration or convergence interventions already existing. In West Africa, Senegal’s National Malaria Control Program demonstrates this integration by rationalizing efforts and costs to collect data on NTDs and malaria. 

We make it to the Kigali Summit after 13 months, with the unwavering support of over 300 civil society organizations and individuals who have also signed the « March to Kigali » campaign call-to-action to prioritize the fight to slow and prevent the spread of NTDs and malaria in Africa. We call on governments, civil society organizations and the private sector to work to implement all these necessary actions to protect Africans from NTDs and malaria.


Apply online :

  • Taille max. des fichiers : 64 MB.
  • Taille max. des fichiers : 64 MB.
  • Ce champ n’est utilisé qu’à des fins de validation et devrait rester inchangé.