Last week (16 to 20 April 2018), leaders of Commonwealth countries gathered in London for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018. The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 53 nations spanning Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and the Pacific.
With 840 million Commonwealth citizens needing treatment across 46 endemic countries, the summit offered a great opportunity for Uniting and partners to urge leaders to prioritise NTDs.
It was great to see the commitment to eliminating trachoma included in the official communiqué of the summit and the many exciting NTD announcements made at the Global Citizen Live concert on Tuesday.
Here’s a run down of all the exciting news…
Commitment to beat trachoma included in the official communiqué
In the official communiqué, heads of government reiterated their commitment to achieving Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.
They also committed to beating trachoma by 2020 and highlighted the disproportionate impact of the disease on women and children.
“[Heads of government] committed to take action towards … eliminating blinding trachoma by 2020, which disproportionately affects women and children across the Commonwealth.”
UK government announces new funding to tackle trachoma
Penny Mordaunt (International Development Secretary, UK) announced £20 million of funding to contribute towards eliminating trachoma across 10 Commonwealth countries by 2020.
“This further commitment will mean millions of people … will receive vital sight-saving treatment.”
This funding announcement comes a week after Penny Mordaunt set out her vision for UK aid where she confirmed that DFID remained committed in the fight to beat NTDs.
“We will redouble our efforts in the fight against polio, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, TB and AIDS.”
Urging leaders to prioritise NTDs at the Global Citizen Live concert
NTDs and preventable diseases were addressed at the Global Citizen Live concert on Tuesday 17 April, which coincided with the arrival of world leaders in London for the Commonwealth summit.
4,000 people attended the event, to enjoy the all-star lineup including Emeli Sandé, and to urge Commonwealth leaders to prioritise key issues – including NTDs – at the meeting.
Ghana announces elimination of trachoma
At the Global Citizen Live concert, Eugene Owusu (on behalf of H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana) announced that Ghana has eliminated trachoma – making it the first country in sub-Saharan Africa. Validation by WHO is pending.
During his speech, Eugene Owusu also said that Ghana would commit to reaching 8.4 million people in need of NTD treatment by 2020 and that their president would become a champion to end NTDs across Africa.
“On his excellency’s behalf, I pledge his commitment to champion the end of neglected tropical diseases across Africa.”
Botswana’s president committed to prioritising NTDs
H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana, only took office on 1 April 2018, but has already committed to prioritise NTDs and to encourage other leaders to join him.
“One of my priorities is also to reach as many Botswanans as possible who are not receiving treatment for neglected tropical diseases.”
Prime Minister of Malta leads on the call to action for funding
During the Global Citizen Live concert, Malta’s prime minister called on Commonwealth leaders to contribute to raising the additional $250 million per year needed to reach the 500 million people who didn’t receive treatment in 2016.
“We call upon Commonwealth countries to commit to now!”
Congratulations to all the partners who have played a part in ensuring that NTDs remained at the top of the agenda.