The fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has received a major boost with a landmark commitment by donors and partners to invest over US$ 777 million boost efforts to eliminate and eradicate NTDs.
The commitment announced this week by the United Arab Emirates, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other donors at the 2023 Reaching the Last Mile Forum held during the COP28 in Dubai will help accelerate progress towards achieving the targets in the World Health Organization(WHO)’s 2030 roadmap on NTDs.
This commitment will particularly be critical in the efforts to support sub-saharan African to regain the momentum in the fight against NTDs, having suffered some setbacks due to the impact of COVID19 and the dispropotionate adverse impacts of climate change.
“This commitment by the donors and partner is timely and will greatly enhance our ongoing efforts to support countries to adopt integrated people-centered health services to defeat NTDs,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa.
Despite challenges, the Africa region has made significant progress in the fight against NTDs. In 2022, the number of individuals requiring NTD interventions decreased by an estimated 80 million. Furthermore 12 countries have been certified for eliminating at least one NTD with Togo achieving global recognition as the first country globally to receive WHO certification for eliminating four NTDs.
To consolidate these gains, WHO Africa has stepped up support to countries including developing integrated NTD master plans, promoting strategies such as the integrated screening for skin NTDs, and providing guidance for disease prevention and management.
As a region facing severe consequences of climate change-related health risks, WHO is working with countries to urgently adapt strategies to preserve health gains and investments. At the recently conevened NTD Programme Managers’ meeting in the WHO African region, it was agreed to leverage multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms including the one health approach to address the interconnectedness between the environment, development activities, human, plant, and animal health.
WHO in Africa has also unveiled a new blueprint to drive the region’s strategy towards ending diseases.
“With this new strategy, we welcome the support of all partners towards the vision of ending diseases in Africa,” Dr Moeti said.