Fri. Jul 3rd, 2020


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Rwandans join call on world leaders not neglect other existing health programmes during fight against COVID 19

  • Over 1.7 billion people affected by an NTD must not be forgotten
  • Leading Rwandan Luminaries take centre stage
  • Global pledge to #EndTheNeglect

    Four luminaries from Rwanda joined the World Health Organization (WHO), philanthropists, NGOs and youth groups at a global event calling on world leaders not to forget the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) – which affect one in five people on the planet.   

    The virtual event, hosted by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, was due to take place in Kigali on June 25. Instead the world came together online to call on country leaders and policy makers to remember more than 1.7 billion people affected by NTDs and continue the commitment set out in the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs which comes to an end this year.

    “Work to capitalise on the incredible gains made over the last eight years since the London Declaration was signed is imperative,” says Chair of the Uniting Board, Mona Hammami. “Especially given the current global health landscape. The Uniting partnership is responding to the WHO road map by expanding to include all 20 diseases. We believe that over the next ten years we can put an end to many diseases of poverty.  Since the London Declaration was signed, we have made historic eliminations in 32 countries but COVID-19 represents a significant challenge for all sectors working in global health. It has drawn global attention to the need to protect people from major health crises. With support from world leaders, dedicated partners and continued donations from the pharmaceutical industry we can ensure the progress of the last eight years does not halt.”

    Over 1.7 billion people are affected by NTDs, which cause immeasurable suffering around the world. The World Bank projects that COVID-19 will cause the first increase in global poverty since 1998. 23 million people are expected to be pushed into poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and 16 million in South Asia. Hardest hit is likely to be India, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, countries already highly endemic for NTDs.

    Dr Mwelecele Ntuli MalecelaDirectorWHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, believes it is more vital than ever not to lose focus. “COVID‐19 has affected almost every country and amplified inequity worldwide.  Our upcoming road map envisages important shifts and one of them is integration which we can leverage to work across sectors and in conjunction with the many other programmes – malaria, TB, immunization, the whole gamut of public health interventions – to respond to a radically changed public health landscape. Failure to collaborate and pool-in resources and efforts will jeopardize the progress we have made over the past decade.”

    Since the London Declaration on NTDs was signed in 2012:
  • 32 countries have successfully eliminated at least one NTD including Malawi*, Yemen, Ghana and Togo

  • Over 12 billion treatments have reached some of the world’s most vulnerable people to help defeat neglected tropical diseases

  • A new Guinness World Record was set for the most medicines ever donated in a 24-hour period (Jan 2017). In just one day over 200 million medicines were delivered across 6 countries

  • Today, more than 500 million people no longer need to be treated for NTDs.

    Director, Uniting to Combat NTDs Secretariat, Thoko Elphick-Pooley concludes, “As we are seeing throughout the world, a strong, supported health workforce is essential to cope with pandemics like Covid-19. By protecting the world’s most vulnerable people, we contribute to a more just and equal world.  While research into a Covid-19 vaccine is paramount, it is crucial to start thinking about its equitable access and to ensure that the poorest people will not be forgotten from this new vaccine but also from treatments that already exist. NTDs and the people they affect, are already neglected; we need to make sure they are not completely forgotten.”

    Together, we are harder to ignore – Join global pledge to #EndTheNeglect

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