On the first-ever World NTD Day: Guinea and Senegal say “No to NTDs”

Press Release • 30 January 2020

Dakar, 30 January 2020 – Today, over 200 organisations working across the health sector have come together to celebrate the first World NTD Day. This new awareness day has been introduced to mark the global fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), a group of contagious and devastating diseases which affect more that 1.5 billion people worldwide.

In Dakar, Senegal, not-for-profit organization Speak Up Africa joins the Youssou Ndour Foundation, Social Change Factory and the Civil Society says No to NTD Network, to host a video screening and panel discussion to raise awareness on NTDs and engage Senegalese youth in the fight to eliminate these diseases.

Sobel Ngom, Executive Director of Social Change Factory and President of Speak Up Africa’s Youth Council said: “2020 is set to be a defining year in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases. We are delighted to mark the first World NTD Day by mobilizing younger generations in the fight against NTDs. Facilitating conversations around these diseases and their prevention is an important starting point to boost youth engagement in this fight that must be sustained and carried forward by Africa’s youth in future years.”

Launched in 2018, the No to NTDs movement seeks to mobilize and engage individuals, political leaders, the private sector and civil society organizations, to raise awareness, and increase prioritization and national engagement in the fight to end these diseases that create obstacles to education, employment, economic growth and overall development. In 2019, civil society organisations across Guinea, Niger and Senegal came together to launch the first civil society network dedicated to eliminating NTDs in Africa: the Civil Society says No to NTDs Network.

Dame Ndiaye, Coordinator of the Youth National Alliance for Health and Family Planning, adds: “Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases is a major challenge, not only for Senegal but for the entire African continent. More than ever, this World NTD Day civil society is ready and determined to work tirelessy each day to eliminate these diseases. The No to NTDs movement is a real opportunity for civil society organizations to ensure our voices are heard and reinforce our role in society.”

Announced at the Reaching the Last Mile Forum in Abu Dhabi last November, the first-ever World NTD Day seeks to inform the general public on NTDs, to celebrate progress achieved to date, and to launch a call to action to the general public, political leaders, civil society organizations and other partners.

In Conakry, Guinea, civil society organization Jeunesse Secours (a member of the Civil Society Says No to NTDs Network), also marks World NTD Day by collaborating with Guinea’s National NTD Control Program and hosting over 100 participants. This event highlights the risks associated with NTDs in Guinea, and provides a platform for individuals affected by one NTD who are sharing their powerful stories and experiences living with these diseases.

Salomon Yedidya Dopavogui, Executive Director, Jeunesse Secours, highlights: “We are delighted to participate in the global momentum for the elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, and we thank the Crown Prince Court for supporting World NTD Day celebrations. As a civil society organization, we know we have an important role to play in the elimination of these diseases. This event, like the No to NTDs movement, offers a new opportunity to reinforce awareness against these diseases, which is a crucial element to their elimination in Guinea, and in Africa.”

As accelerating and intensifying efforts against Neglected Tropical Diseases brings endemic countries closer to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), it is critical that the general public are informed and engaged, and that political leaders are aware of the impact of these diseases on the sustainable development of their countries. As “neglected” diseases, these diseases are often unprioritized and lack sufficient domestic funding. As a result, people affected by these preventable and treatable diseases are also neglected and marginalized within society.

Aida Coulibaly Ndour, President of the Youssou Ndour Foundation, also declares: “The Youssou Ndour Foundation is committed to supporting the most vulnerable, particularly young children in Senegal. Throughout all of our activities, we work to ensure that children and young people can thrive – are healthy and can access the best education possible, as they represent the future of our continent. Neglected Tropical Diseases hinder the wellbeing of everyone, by causing obstacles to education, employment and sustainable development in Africa. We therefore join Speak Up Africa and its partners to celebrate World NTD Day and highlight our lifelong commitment to eliminating these diseases in Senegal, and beyond its borders.”

Whilst Africa represents 40% of the global NTD burden with 600 million people requiring treatment, today only 0.6% of global health funding is dedicated to the elimination of these diseases.

Yacine Djibo, Executive Director, Speak Up Africa, concludes: “Through the No to NTDs movement, we are proud to give a platform to our partners, enabling each of them to educate, inform and engage others on this issue and to put an end to these diseases. Today, from Dakar and Conakry, to Niamey and Burkian Faso, we raise our voices together to say No to NTDs. Our goal is to ignite collective action through words, and to transform engagement into tangible action so that nobody, anywhere, lives at risk of NTDs.”

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