Launch of new tools to accelerate progress against NTDs in Africa.
Last week, over 200 African delegates met at the biannual meeting of the WHO program managers AFRO NTD in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to discuss successes and challenges in the fight against disease neglected tropical (NTDs) in Africa.
Ms Mariama Cisse Mohamed, Director of the Department of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission, joined the Minister of Health of Ethiopia and heads of national programs against NTDs across the continent for event organized by the African Regional Office of the World health Organization (WHO) and the African Union Commission.
The meeting was an opportunity for the affected countries, donors, technical experts and international organizations to assess progress in the light of the roadmap of the World Health Organization on NTDs , which sets major objectives, including the global elimination by 2020 of several NTDs such as blinding trachoma. Achievements to date include 1 billion people treated against at least one MTN and 37 countries have completed the removal of at least one MTN.
During the meeting, WHO and the directors of the national program have agreed on several points of action, including:
- Collaborate in the fight against NTDs with other key sectors such as education;
- Give priority to promoting gender equality and rights in MTN programs;
- Support the continuous monitoring and evaluation of MTN, with a strengthening of capacities for action at the country level;
- Promoting greater integration of NTDs in national health systems;
- Provide training in countries that have not yet established the mapping and HRMM services (Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention / Management Morbidity and Prevention of Handicaps) to improve signage and cases management morbidity from MTN.
Other regional strategies and plans were also discussed, including the new WHO AFRO regional strategy on NTDs and recommendations of ESPEN for the period 2021- 2025.
Ms Mariama Cisse Mohamed, Director of the Department of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission said:
“I commend WHO and its partners for their excellent work in the Member States for the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It is evident that major progress has been made in the fight against these diseases.
“While celebrating the past progress of the fight against NTDs, we must now focus on the eradication of parasites in endemic communities through vector control measures, health education and improved practices hygiene, including clean water and sanitation. The African Union Commission is pleased to work with partners from our member states to ensure that NTDs are eliminated from the mainland. “
Neglected tropical diseases are a heterogeneous group of communicable diseases that affect more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, 39% in Africa.
“No to MTN ‘in Africa
Parallel to the meeting, the Speak Up Africa advocacy group launched a new online platform for knowledge sharing and facilitating the dissemination of the movement “No to MTN” in Africa.
Designed for health ministers, health professionals, civil society organizations, among other makers of African countries affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), these downloadable resources come in support of the campaign planning efforts, establishment of strategic partnerships, visibility, monitoring and evaluation. The movement “No to MTN” aims to strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations and create a favorable environment for the elimination of NTDs nationally.
Earlier this month, the first national rollout of the movement “No to MTN” was officially launched in Niger at the AU Summit in Niamey. The movement “No to MTN” is part of an inclusive advocacy campaign Speak Up Africa to raise awareness, establish effective priorities and commit nations to accelerate the control and elimination of NTDs in Africa. The “No to MTN” platform is already available online www.notontds.org
The platform is supported by the expanded special project for the elimination of NTDs (ESPEN), which offers health ministries and national programs against NTDs aportal for sharing and exchange of local data neglected tropical diseases to facilitate progress against them.
Ms. Yacine Djibo, Speak Up Africa Executive Director commented:
“NTDs affect the most vulnerable members of society, and without minimizing the remarkable progress in recent years, through the concerted action of cross-border meetings like this in Ethiopia can fight more effectively against this group diseases. By opening the dialogue and using shared resources such as the new platform “No to MTN,” we will be able to end this disease once and for all. “