Women committed to equitable health and innovative solutions launch the WINS (Women in Neglected Tropical Diseases) initiative

Press Release • 07 April 2024

Yaoundé, 07 April 2024: As part of the celebrations for World Health Day, the city of Yaoundé today hosted the official ceremony to launch the WINS (Women in Neglected Tropical Diseases) initiative. This initiative aims to catalyse the engagement of women and girls in strategies to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

This ceremony marks the start of a new era in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases. By bringing together women from diverse backgrounds and focusing on inclusion, WINS is committed to energising existing efforts and promoting innovative solutions to achieve public health goals. This is a call to action for the international community, governments, civil society organisations and individual citizens to work together to put an end to these diseases that so severely affect the most vulnerable populations

Professor Emilienne Epee, President of the WINS Initiative and Head of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Department at the Cameroon Ministry of Health.

Neglected tropical diseases are so called because of the lack of attention, funding and research efforts they receive compared to other diseases that receive greater media coverage. These diseases are a group of infectious conditions that are particularly prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas, where environmental conditions are conducive to their development. They have a profound impact, causing significant social, economic and health damage, and perpetuating a cycle of poverty and disease in the communities affected. The consequences are particularly devastating for young girls and women.

As stated by Dr Etoundi Mballa, Director of Disease Control, Epidemics and Pandemics at Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health “WINS can improve populations’ living conditions and play an important role in translating the determinants of health by promoting and implementing original, practical and operational solutions to combat neglected tropical diseases”.

Cameroon is one of the African countries with the highest number of endemic NTDs, with 16 NTDs identified out of the 21 listed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Responding to the scale of the challenges posed by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), Cameroon has initiated a variety of programmes to combat these diseases, such as onchocerciasis, which have existed in 10 of the country’s regions for 30 years now but are still rampant. On top of this, most of the policies for combating NTDs do not make a clear commitment to the inclusion, participation and equitable funding of women, by integrating gender-related conditions at all levels.  It is in this context that the WINS initiative was created to accelerate the inclusion of women and girls in strategies to end NTDs.

By taking women into account, the WINS initiative can find its place and can make the difference with the other stakeholders and players in the fight against neglected tropical diseases

WHO Representative in Cameroon

Speak Up Africa has joined the WINS initiative and will coordinate the scaling-up of WINS at continental level, with the support of WINS Cameroon.

Launching WINS is a demonstration of our collective commitment to fighting neglected tropical diseases. By uniting our voices and our actions, we are paving the way for a future in which health is a right for everyone. Speak Up Africa is proud to be associated with WINS Cameroon for the launch of this initiative and looks forward to coordinating its expansion across the African continent

Yacine Djibo, Speak Up Africa’s Executive Director.

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