We use necessary cookies that allow our site to work. We also set optional cookies that help us improve our website. For more information about the types of cookies we use, visit our Cookies policy.

Cookie settings

The Addis Ababa Call-to-Action: An Africa free of neglected tropical diseases

16 February 2024


AU SUMMIT high level event

photo by William Dekker/ ALMA

Amidst the glimmering lights of Addis Ababa, a stark reality casts its shadow: neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) continue to afflict millions across the African continent, particularly in marginalized rural communities. Together, leaders called for bold action to combat NTDs in Africa and advance elimination efforts through the Addis Ababa Call-to-Action.

In the spotlight: The NTD crisis

NTDs pose a significant threat to public health across Africa, particularly in rural communities with limited access to healthcare services and sanitation. With over 1.65 billion individuals globally at risk of one or more NTDs (with the burden in Africa accounting for more than 35%) the impact on human health, education, and economic productivity is profound. Despite notable successes in NTD control and elimination efforts, challenges persist, including the recent reduction in funding from external sources and the risk of re-emergence in countries that have achieved elimination.

Addressing NTDs is not only a health imperative but also essential for achieving broader development goals, including poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth. The African Union has demonstrated political commitment to NTD elimination. However, sustained progress requires increased domestic funding and integration of NTD programming into national health agendas.

To tackle this, a high-level side event was convened at the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss the imperative of financially resourcing efforts to eliminate NTDs. Titled "Promoting Sustainability through Resource Mobilisation: Financially Resourcing an Africa Free of NTDs by Endemic Country Governments," the event brought together stakeholders from across the continent to discuss strategies for combating NTDs and ensuring sustained progress towards their elimination.

AU SUMMIT high level event 5

photo by William Dekker/ ALMA

A shared sense of determination

With fervor and determination, delegates outlined the imperative of increased domestic financing to combat NTDs. Ministers of Health gained critical insights into NTD elimination efforts and the pivotal role they play in advancing Universal Health Coverage.

Echoing through the halls of the Sheraton Addis Hotel, a rallying cry emerged: it is time for African nations to take ownership of their health destinies.

“It is time for African nations to take ownership of their health destinies.”

Through robust investment and integrated approaches, the dream of an Africa free from NTDs is within reach. As the event unfolded, African Union member states pledged to mobilize resources at the national level, bolstering efforts to eliminate NTDs once and for all. Support surged for initiatives such as the Reaching Last Mile Fund, which aims to eradicate specific NTDs and bridge critical funding gaps.

Amidst the discussions, a spirit of innovation and unity permeated the air. Delegates highlighted the vital role of national regulatory authorities in ensuring access to lifesaving treatments and the urgent need for real-time data to drive informed decision-making.

The Addis Ababa Call-to-Action

The Addis Ababa Call-to-Action emerged as a beacon of hope. Leaders committed to increasing domestic financing, prioritizing NTDs within broader health agendas, and endorsing the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Highlights included:

  • Celebrating the commitment and strong country ownership of countries that have already eliminated specific NTDs;
  • Welcoming global funding commitments for NTDs, particularly initiatives such as the Reaching Last Mile Fund (RLMF);
  • Acknowledging the need to intensify domestic resource mobilization efforts to accelerate NTD control and elimination;
  • Recognising the inclusion of the lifesaving Rabies post-exposure prophylaxis in the GAVI portfolio that countries can now apply for and the need for rapid adoption and deployment of the recently approved pediatric praziquantel, opening the way for countries to extend treatment for schistosomiasis to children below 5 years old that are not currently covered through mass scale treatment.
  • Highlighting how domestic and international investments in addressing NTDs and health, including from the private and public sectors, will strengthen health systems and support Universal Health Coverage, Agenda 2063, and the envisioned targets of the Continental Framework on the Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases and WHO NTDs road map.

It outlined several concrete steps for advancing NTD elimination efforts, including:

  • Increasing domestic financing for NTDs through budget allocation and the establishment of dedicated councils.
  • Leveraging existing global health initiatives and financing mechanisms to support NTD National Master Plans.
  • Prioritising NTDs within broader health and development agendas, including primary healthcare and universal health coverage.
  • Ensuring the availability of real-time data to inform decision-making and enhance cross-border collaboration.
  • Endorsing the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases and inputting national domestic data for NTDs on the Commitment Tracker.

As the curtains drew on the event, one thing became abundantly clear: the fight against NTDs is far from over, but with bold action and unwavering commitment, victory is within grasp. The road ahead may be challenging, but with Africa's leaders and partners standing shoulder to shoulder, a future free from the scourge of NTDs shines bright on the horizon.

For more the full call-to-action, click here.