Last week, partners and stakeholders from around the world joined the Power the Partnership: End the Neglect, a high-level global event on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which was held virtually. The event took place on 25 June, the date that the Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases was scheduled alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), but which was postponed due to COVID-19.

During the event, attendees celebrated the successes of the London Declaration on NTDs, learnt more about the draft World Health Organization’s (WHO) road map on NTDs. The Government of Japan – as a show of support to WHO and NTDs – announced a new US$1 million commitment to the Expanded Special Programme for the Elimination of NTDs in Africa (ESPEN), which will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

All in all, partners re-affirmed their commitment to the 1.7 billion people that continue to be affected by NTDs and welcomed the importance of keeping NTDs in the spotlight, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to prevent retrogression of the gains already made.

The event was preceded by Power the Youth – hosted by Youth Combating NTDs, an initiative that aims to inspire and engage young people in the fight against NTDs – and featured a powerful performance by renowned poet Teardrops.

Power the Partnership: End the Neglect

Joining the event were representatives from WHO, as well as government officials, partners from the private sector, non-governmental organisations and Youth Combatting NTDs to commit to ending the neglect of NTDs. In total, attendees heard from 26 speakers, from 20 countries.

As well as a keynote address by the Right Honourable Helen Clark – former Prime Minister of New Zealand and Chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH) board – the event featured the Social Affairs Commissioner from the African Union who spoke about the work the African Union is doing to elevate NTDs in Africa.

“This comes at a time when Africa as a continent is developing a Common Position to intensely advocate for the control and elimination of NTDs through allocation of increased domestic financing; stakeholder integration; coordination; harmonisation and strengthening of partnership in countries and across the borders.”

In a fireside chat, Dr Mwele Malecela, Director of the Department of Control of NTDs at WHO, discussed how the new draft NTD road map can help shape the next ten years of NTD advocacy. Government ministers and senior officials from Canada, Germany, Japan, UK and US as well as ministers of health and officials from Guyana, Nigeria, Mozambique, Vanuatu all spoke about their commitment to beating NTDs.

The event also featured a discussion with the Chair of the Uniting Board, Mona Hammami, who announced that Uniting to Combat NTDs is expanding its focus from the ten diseases targeted in the 2012 London Declaration to all 20 diseases included in the new WHO draft road map.

If you attended either Power the Partnership: End the Neglect or Power the Youth, you can help inform our future events by submitting your feedback here. The survey closes on 9 July.

Watch Power the Partnership: End the Neglect

Power the Youth

During this event, Youth Combating NTDs introduced its newly formed Youth Advisory Board, which seeks to engage, empower and support communities to become free of NTDs.

As well as a keynote address by Dr Magda Robalo, the High Commissioner for COVID-19 in the President’s office in Guinea Bissau, an international dialogue featuring Proffessor David Molyneaux, the event featured a powerful performance and an address by Teardrops, an award-winning poet from Kenya who has been featured in the Daily Nation and several major Kenyan TV stations.

Watch the Power the Youth event

End the Neglect

The event culminated with a rallying call for attendees to endorse the End the Neglect campaign, which aims to end the neglect of neglected tropical diseases.