Executive Director, Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Incredible progress has been made against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) but there is still work to be done. The Kigali Declaration on NTDs, a new political declaration, provides the opportunity to end NTDs.
NTDs are a group of 20 diseases that affect 1.7 billion people globally; they can debilitate, disfigure and kill. These diseases include elephantiasis, rabies, river blindness and trachoma. We call these diseases neglected because they affect the world’s poorest and they receive less attention than other diseases.
The effects of NTDs are devastating, they impair cognitive and physical development in children. They lead to school and work absences, particularly in women and girls who are often responsible for caring for their family. They also cost the economies of endemic countries billions of dollars and can trap communities in cycles of poverty.
Recognising the success so far
Over the past decade, incredible progress has been made against NTDs. So far, 44 countries have eliminated at least one NTD and 600 million people no longer require treatment for NTDs. Some of these diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries, such as leprosy, sleeping sickness and guinea worm disease are also at an all-time low. This shows that ending NTDs is within our power, but there is still work to be done.
The Kigali Declaration on NTDs pushes us forward
The Kigali Declaration on NTDs is a new high-level political declaration that will launch later in 2022 at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs, alongside the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. The Kigali Declaration will put country ownership of NTD programmes, integration and cross-sectoral collaboration at the front and centre to ensure that these programmes are sustainable in the long term.
The Declaration provides the opportunity to mobilise the political will, community commitment, resources and action needed to end unnecessary suffering from NTDs. Signatories of this declaration pledge to do their part to ensure that NTDs are eradicated, eliminated or controlled by 2030.
The Declaration provides the opportunity to mobilise the political will, community commitment, resources and action needed to end unnecessary suffering from NTDs.
Commitment to ending NTDs is needed
By working together, adopting people-centred approaches and working across sectors in an integrated manner, we can end NTDs and achieve WHO 2030 NTD road map targets. Now is the moment for leaders, donors, companies and organisations to make endorsements behind the Kigali Declaration and show they are 100% committed to ending NTDs. These commitments will help relieve needless suffering, decrease the health-related drivers of poverty, make our health systems more resilient and our world an equitable and safer place.