On January 28 at the African Union summit, heads of state and ministers reviewed progress on neglected tropical diseases as part of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) scorecard for the first time at the annual ALMA event.
The NTD index was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and compiled using data reported by countries to WHO. The index shows country-by-country progress against the five NTDs amenable to preventive chemotherapy. Country-specific recommendations on how they can improve their coverage were included and these will be monitored every 3 months to track progress and identify bottlenecks.
By adding NTDs to the scorecard, African leaders are making a public commitment to hold themselves accountable for progress on these diseases.
The addition of NTDs on the ALMA scorecard has been a great way to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the London Declaration and to increase the visibility of the fight against NTDs at the highest levels of government since the signing of the declaration in January 2012.
NTDs discussed by heads of state at the African Union
During the event, many heads of state and ministers reviewed the NTD index and our bespoke country profiles that were created to provide further information about their country’s progress, beyond the single index.
Dr Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa and the Right Honourable Prime Minister, H.E. Dr. Barnabas S. Dlamini spoke at the event and highlighted the significant impact of NTDs on the lives of over 600 million people from Africa and welcomed the inclusion of NTDs on the ALMA scorecard.
“The ALMA scorecard plays a key role in marking progress. The bulk of the NTD burden is in Africa. This hurts people’s ability to farm and has a negative impact on economic development. We need to reach every man, woman and child.”
Dr Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa
“As the chair of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, and on behalf of my fellow heads of state, I welcome the inclusion of neglected tropical diseases in the ALMA scorecard. These are diseases of the poor and they deserve our attention. The good news is that many of them can be eliminated. I look forward to see the great progress that will result from this increased attention.”
Right Honourable Prime Minister of Swaziland, H.E. Dr. Barnabas S. Dlamini on behalf of His Majesty King Mswati III
Summary of the NTD index
Great progress has been seen in many countries in Africa towards the control and elimination of these diseases and there is an opportunity to do more.
359 million out of 623 million (57%), of those at risk of at least one NTD are being treated across the region. This is below the current global average of 62% and well below the 80% target coverage for the elimination of these diseases, and for essential health coverage under UHC.
With this renewed interest and spotlight by the heads of state, we hope to see an increase in the numbers of people that are being reached with coverage for NTDs.
Bespoke profiles for 47 countries
Alongside the launch of the NTD index, we also produced bespoke country profiles. These provide information about each of the diseases individually and WHO recommendations for national interventions. The profiles also include recommendations for the African Union as a whole, which we hope will spur further action for NTDs across the continent.
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