300 delegates from over 40 countries met to discuss ways to tackle Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) at the 8th Annual NTD NGO Network Meeting.
The NTD NGO Network is a global forum for 60 non-governmental organisations based in 100 countries, together mobilising over $500 million in support for governments to deliver NTD interventions. NTDs are a group of treatable and preventable diseases that continue to affect over 1 billion of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. These diseases impact on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals, costing developing economies billions of dollars each year.
The meeting held between 28-30 September in Dakar, Senegal, was the largest meeting to date, and was chaired by Imperial College’s Dr Wendy Harrison, Executive Director of the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI). Attendees included expert representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and Ministries of Health from countries affected by NTDs.
During 3 days of immersive workshops, delegates discussed ways to best tackle NTDs ranging from eye diseases such as Trachoma, to intestinal worm infections. The main objectives of the workshops were to determine methods to better control NTDs, achieve sustainability in disease control programmes, and to tackle the health problems associated with the diseases, to ensure that affected individuals can achieve their fullest potential until the diseases are eliminated.
Three of the key workshops were led by members of SCI. Dr Fiona Fleming, Monitoring Evaluation and Research Director, worked with delegates to devise ways to accelerate progress towards gender equality in NTD control, and Dr Wendy Harrison led discussions on improving engagement with the Veterinary Public Health Sector, to strengthen health systems and tackle NTDs. Finally, Programme Advisors Carolyn Henry and Elizabeth Hollenberg created a “Tree of sustainability” with delegates, encouraging members to make a pledge with a “red apple” to ensure that sustainability will be at the heart of all their NTD control programmes and achieve the goal of elimination.
The workshop was well-received, with Birhan Mengistu from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health commenting: “It was my first time presenting at the NNN and I found it to be a great experience of sharing knowledge and experience together. I hope to take it back to the country programme in Ethiopia”.
A summary of the key findings and actions from the 3-day meeting will be made available on the NNN NGO Network website, to ensure that all countries affected by NTDs can access the strategic expertise of the attendees and work together to one-day eliminate these devastating diseases.
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