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Uniting to Combat NTDs deliver a statement on achieving Universal Health Coverage at the WHO Regional Committee for Africa

Thoko Elphick-Pooley speaks at 73rd WHO AFRO RC

This week (28 August - 1 September 2023), Uniting to Combat NTDs is attending the 73rd WHO Regional Committee for Africa in Gaborone, Botswana.

We've responded to Agenda item 9: Framework for sustaining resilient health systems to achieve universal health coverage and promote health security, an item that is highly relevant for advancing action on NTDs in the region.

Our Executive Director, Thoko Elphick-Pooley, presented the opening minute of our statement to the room.

Watch the beginning of our statement

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Read our full statement

"Thank you. Dear Chair, Honourable Ministers and esteemed guests. Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases is a global advocacy organisation that exists to end NTDs by mobilising resources in support of the World Health Organization's NTD road map and the Sustainable Development Goals.

We welcome this framework and report, which highlights not just the gaps that need to be addressed for Africa to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC), but also reveals how communicable diseases remain a leading cause of mortality in the region.

We fully support the priority interventions and actions noted in the report, especially in regard to prioritising primary healthcare as we progress towards UHC.

We would like to make three very specific recommendations:

1. We strongly recommend that member states, as part of supporting their primary healthcare services, increase resources towards national NTD programmes.

To date 19 countries in the WHO AFRO region have eliminated at least one NTD, with many having eliminated multiple NTDs.

Elimination is within reach, and not only does this free communities from devastating disabling and fatal diseases, but it also frees up much needed resources for health and allows for increased investment in national economies.

2. To ensure progress on universal health coverage is equitable, we urge member states to adopt the WHO service coverage index for neglected tropical diseases as a tracer for equitable access to health care. This is a relatively low lift as data is routinely reported by countries to WHO.

And this will tell us whether services under UHC are reaching the poorest and most marginalized communities.

3. We thank those member states that have endorsed the Kigali Declaration on neglected tropical diseases and urge those yet to do so, to make it a priority.

Thank you."