Beat NTDs by 2020: the contribution of Afrique One-ASPIRE

21 April 2017

The World Health Organization (WHO) hosted its 2nd global partners’ meeting on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) on the 19th April 2017. This event marked the 5th anniversary of the WHO NTD Roadmap which established targets and milestones for the global control, elimination and eradication of many of these diseases towards 2020 and that of the London Declaration, endorsed by a group of partners.

Some of the main goals of this meeting were (i) to highlight overall progress achieved over the past five years and (ii) to identify further measures needed to reach the 2020 milestones. The Director of Afrique One-ASPIRE, Prof. Bassirou Bonfoh was invited to attend this meeting. He presented the strategy of Afrique One-ASPIRE on global control, elimination and eradication of some of the NTDs that are included in the consortium’s research portfolio towards 2020.

Progress achieved

Remarkable progress has been made against NTDs. The number of people affected by NTDs has fallen by 20% in the past 5 years. According to the WHO report on ‘Unprecedented progress against neglected tropical diseases’, an estimated 1 billion people received treatment in 2015 alone. ‘WHO has observed record-breaking progress towards bringing ancient scourges like sleeping sickness and elephantiasis to their knees,’ said WHO Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan.

To read the full report, click here►

Measures needed to reach the 2020 milestones

Various strategies were suggested by the attendants of the meeting for the global control, elimination and eradication of many NTDs towards 2020. Among them, the collaboration and partnership strengthening, increasing funding, the researchers of Africa empowerment and good data are listed.

For Afrique One-ASPIRE, the strategy to use must have a global and a local/national plan. At the global plan, it is important to consider the following essential points: (i) the extension of the NTDs list to include animal diseases with an economic and health impact and (ii) the promotion disease elimination science to better generate evidence for policy makers. For the national plan, it would be better to consider: (i) the combination of the different diseases programmes for a better use of the already limited resources, (ii) an action which goes beyond drugs mass administrtaion to include the cut of transmission by risk factors management (child education, water, sanitation, hygiene) and (iii) the capacities building of communities and new practitioners who are sometimes distant from new knowledge about NTDs.

Position of African leaders

A great representation of African leaders attended to the 2nd global partners’ meeting on NTDs including Kofi Annan, the former United Nations General Secretary, Prof. Nicolas Méda and Dr Osagie Ehanire, Ministers of Health of Burkina Faso and Nigeria, respectively.

At the opening ceremony, Kofi Annan reminded that NTDs are diseases of poverty and we have to keep the poor close to us. For him, we cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if we leave one billion people affected by NTDs behind.

Dr Ehanire highlighted the role of community leaders to communicate messages and address rumours. As for his counterpart of Burkina, he asked the question to know why not use HIV model to overcome the burden of NTDs, like integrating education to the NTDs control.

These positions of African leaders joined the Afrique One-ASPIRE point of view on the capacities building issues for the diseases elimination and control.

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