Nearly 60 leaders from Middle East and global governments, the UN, African ministries of health, pharmaceutical companies, non-governmental organizations and the philanthropic community convened in Kuwait City for the “Donors’ Meeting to End Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa.”
The historic meeting, hosted by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), is the first such meeting to be hosted in the Middle East. It seeks to galvanize new financial and other aligned support to reach global control and elimination goals for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Africa.
Africa accounts for nearly 40% of the world’s NTD burden, or nearly 600 million of the 1.58 billion people affected by NTDs globally. “The Middle East is uniquely well positioned to make a significant contribution to the fight against NTDs in Africa, given the risk of disease spread from the region and the Middle East’s own success in reducing the NTD burden in our region,” said KFAED Director General Abdulwahab Al Bader.
This year, the global community marked the fifth anniversary of the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which galvanized unprecedented local, national and global action to end NTDs, including a historic $17.8 billion medicine donation commitment by pharmaceutical companies. This led to increased treatment coverage and reduced the number of people that required treatment for NTDs by 333 million between 2012 and 2015.
To further accelerate progress on NTDs in Africa, AFRO launched the Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases in May 2016 with the support of KFAED and other founding partners. “We are grateful to KFAED for its tremendous leadership and long-standing support for NTD control and elimination. This meeting of development partners is a key moment to celebrate progress, raise awareness of this urgent public health issue, examine the financial needs of the programme and further strengthen partnership opportunities with ESPEN. We hope other partners will follow KFAED’s lead and join us in this important fight.” said the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
The meeting also featured a Call to Action on NTDs by former President of the United Republic of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete, who underscored that the event was designed to kick off a series of high-profile events to expand the network of partners dedicated to supporting progress on the WHO’s 2020 NTD goals.