The World Health Organization (WHO) have published the Annual Report of the Regional Director on the work of WHO in the African Region. The report focuses on results in Africa from  July 2020 to June 2021, and highlights the strong leadership and collaboration needed to tackle COVID-19 whilst simultaneously driving action on multiple fronts, including neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), to improve health.

In response via an oral statement at the 71st session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Executive Director of Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, said:

“Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases welcomes the Regional Director’s report, and thanks Dr Moeti for her strong commitment to ending neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).  We congratulate Togo, Cote D’Ivoire and The Gambia for their elimination success. Now 15 countries have eliminated at least one NTD in the Africa region. We recognise the generous donation of medicines by pharmaceutical companies and the contribution of partners in the delivery of 221 million NTD treatments in the last year.

We remain concerned by the disruption to NTD services caused by COVID-19 including the exit by the UK Government from NTD programmes in 24 countries in Africa. We call on countries to ensure NTDs remain a priority, matched by allocation of resources. We recommend the Kigali Declaration on NTDs to the Regional Committee – a high-level political declaration putting countries at the centre and encouraging multi-sectoral collaboration.

As we have seen so far, this is an area in global health where we can achieve tremendous wins. Let us not miss the opportunity to end NTDs in our generation.”