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Simon Bland

CEO, Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE)

The forthcoming Kigali Summit provides an opportunity for knowledge to be shared to help combat malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Launched at the end of 2019, the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE), a non-profit organisation based in Abu Dhabi, is committed to helping its partners go further and faster towards the elimination and ultimate eradication of infectious diseases, with a current focus on malaria, polio, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis.

The Institute was jointly founded by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and builds upon a long-standing history of investment in global health.

GLIDE’s CEO, Simon Bland, says: “The Kigali Summit comes at a time where some of the world is seemingly emerging from COVID-19, so understanding its impacts and lessons will be vitally important as we look ahead.

“We need more money for health, but also more health for the money. We need efficiencies, synergies, effective coordination and cooperation and synchronicity of services provision across diseases. We want to help break down barriers and silos.”

Finding the best outcome

Bland says a successful Summit for GLIDE would result in high-level political commitment from across the Commonwealth for disease elimination, with increased commitments to tackling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and momentum for a successful Global Fund replenishment in September.

The Summit will be held alongside the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in Rwanda in June.

We need efficiencies, synergies, effective coordination and cooperation, and synchronicity of services provision across diseases.

The rationale behind eliminating or eradicating infectious diseases means no longer having to invest or survey them, thereby freeing up money and resources for other priorities.

Bland says: “Calling to end disease is a bold statement of ambition which can excite, motivate and attract strong political will for such an audacious goal. However, there is a caveat: it is easier to call for elimination than to deliver it, and the last mile of elimination is the hardest.”

Innovation is main objective

Innovation is a key objective for the Institute, which looks to foster and scale innovation not only for new tools and technologies, but also for new strategies for health systems strengthening. GLIDE is working with partners to convene community, country and global experts to explore the rationale for programme integration, keeping in mind that efforts should result in improved outcomes for all health programmes involved.

The Kigali Summit is an opportunity not only for galvanising political commitment, but also for stakeholders from the malaria and NTD communities to identify potential opportunities for joint advocacy, programming and finance.

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