CONGO—With the historic pledge by donors and partners to invest over US$777 million to increase efforts to eliminate and eradicate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the fight against NTDs has gained significant momentum.
This week at the 2023 Reaching the Last Mile Forum hosted during COP28 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and other funders confirmed their pledge.
With the support of this financing, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2030 roadmap on non-communicable diseases will move closer to meeting its objectives.
The Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Plan 2021–2030 was released by the WHO in 2021, marking the beginning of a ten-year effort to control, eradicate, and eradicate NTDs.
To strengthen the battle against NTDs and hasten the achievement of the plan’s targets and goals, the WHO Regional Office for Africa is providing more assistance to nations as they implement the roadmap.
With the region having seen some setbacks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the disproportionately negative effects of climate change, this commitment will be especially important in helping sub-Saharan Africa restore pace in the battle against NTDs.
Dr. Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, stressed the importance of regaining momentum in the fight against diseases by making sure that domestic resources are mobilized and put to use for integrated, person-centred health services.
With 39% of the global NTD burden falling on the African Region, affecting over 580 million people, NTDs place a persistent and substantial burden on the world’s poorest, most disadvantaged, and remote communities.
This commitment by donors and partners is timely and will greatly enhance our ongoing efforts to support countries to adopt integrated people-centred health services to defeat NTDs, according to Dr. Moeti.
The fight against NTDs has seen notable progress in the African region despite obstacles. A noteworthy achievement was the predicted 80 million reduction in the number of people in need of NTD interventions in 2021.
Moreover, Togo became the first nation in the world to obtain WHO certification for eradicating four NTDs, joining the other 12 nations that have been accredited for having eradicated at least one NTD.
WHO Africa has increased support to nations to consolidate these advances. This help has taken the form of integrated NTD master plans, initiatives including integrated screening for skin NTDs, and guidelines for disease prevention and management.
The NTD Program Managers meeting was also arranged by the WHO Africa regional office through the Tropical and Vector-borne Diseases (TVD) and the Expanded Special Project for the Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN).
To accelerate programmatic action towards the elimination of NTDs, the aim was to exchange experiences and possibilities while discussing problems related to enhanced country ownership.
A focus on the significance of efficient partner cooperation at the national level was placed on the 2023 NTD Programme Managers Meeting’s agenda items, which included resource mobilization for financing shortfalls and the monitoring of NTD Master Plan execution.
Managers promised to work with stakeholders to create a one-health strategy for tackling the diseases, acknowledging the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health.
In addition, the Regional Framework for the Control, Elimination, and Eradication of Tropical and Vector-Born Diseases (2022–2030) was adopted by Health Ministers at the 72nd meeting of the WHO Africa Regional Committee.
This framework calls for the development of resilient health systems, the use of data in decision-making, and an integrated and cooperative approach to the planning and execution of interventions.
As part of its efforts to assist nations, the WHO developed integrated NTD masterplans, promoted integrated screening for skin NTDs, and offered advice on disease prevention and management.
Impact evaluations were called upon by NTD program managers to be given top priority to generate evidence that will help steer interventions toward elimination.
The World Health Organization is collaborating with nations to quickly modify policies to protect health advancements and investments, as the region is severely affected by health hazards associated with climate change.
To address the interdependencies between the environment, development activities, and human, plant, and animal health, it was decided to use multi-sectoral coordination mechanisms, such as the one health approach, at the recent NTD Programme Managers’ meeting in the WHO African region.
A new framework to guide the continent’s approach to eradicating illnesses has also been released by WHO in Africa.