African leaders will treat neglected tropical diseases as a top health priority alongside malaria.
African leaders made a public commitment to treat neglected tropical diseases as a top health priority on the same level as malaria.
Starting this year, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) said it will add neglected tropical diseases to its Scorecard for Accountability and Action, which has been used to track progress against malaria. The announcement was publicized at the African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
"My government is determined to make sure we can take 'neglected' out of these diseases," Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said in a news release.
According to WHO, although much progress has been made to combat neglected tropical diseases, more than 1 billion people are still affected by the diverse group of illnesses, many of them living among the poorest and most vulnerable populations in Africa.
Established in 2009, ALMA is an alliance of 49 African nations working together to end malaria by 2030. ALMA’s Scorecard for Accountability and Action is reviewed by African heads of state and tracks evidence of progress against malaria.
The new neglected tropical diseases index was developed in coordination with WHO and Uniting to Combat NTDs, a coalition of public and private sector organizations. It will track the progress of 47 sub-Saharan African countries to treat and prevent the five most common neglected tropical diseases: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma.
According to the new release, these five diseases respond well to cheap, safe medicines that are donated by pharmaceutical companies and are broadly distributed.
"Malaria and NTDs both lay their heaviest burden on the poor, rural and marginalized. They also share solutions, from vector control to community-based treatment,” ALMA executive secretary Joy Phumaphi said in the release. “Adding NTDs to our scorecard will help give leaders the information they need to end the cycle of poverty and reach everyone, everywhere with needed health care."
African Leaders Malaria Alliance. 2018 ALMA Forum Docs. http://www.alma2030.org/content/2018-alma-forum-docs. Accessed February 5, 2018.
Disclosures: Desalegn is prime minister of Ethiopia. Phumaphi is the executive secretary of ALMA.