African Leaders in different sectors including sports, business, art and health have joined forces to push for more attention to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which continue to kill many people on the continent.
Last week in Kigali, Benny Bonsu, Director of Daily Content at the International Olympic Committee; the END Fund; and the Global First Ladies Alliance (GFLA) co-hosted a reception bringing together leaders in sports, business, art, and health from across the African continent to raise awareness of NTDs.
Held at Villa Kigali, the reception drew speakers including Dr. Daniel M. Ngamije, Minister of Health of Rwanda and Aida Muluneh, world-renowned artist and photographer.
Participants learned about Rwanda’s leadership in the fight against NTDs and were among the first to view a new collection of photos from Muluneh and six other contributing photographers from across the continent.
Through a combination of fine art and documentary photography, the collection explores the social and economic impact of NTDs on individuals and communities.
The reception is in the lead-up to the Kigali Summit on Malaria & Neglected Tropical Diseases and the launch of the Kigali Declaration alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, to be hosted by the Rwanda Government in June 2022.
The Summit is expected to be a critical moment for renewed action towards ending these diseases that needlessly hold back human progress.
Benny Bonsu, award-winning broadcaster and Director of Daily Content at the International Olympic Committee, said that joining forces will bring more attention to NTDs.
“It is energizing to see these leaders from the sports, business and art communities learning about NTDs and how they can support our work with their platforms. I look forward to working alongside them.”
Oyetola Oduyemi, Senior Director, Public Affairs at the END Fund said that the meeting in Kigali will lay ground for more action.
“Eliminating NTDs will require the unflagging support and influence of committed stakeholders across sectors. This evening in Kigali marked an important step in mobilizing resources to end NTDs, a goal we are determined to reach within this decade.”
Nicole Field Brzeski, Co-Founder of the Global First Ladies Alliance commended Rwanda’s leadership in the fight against NTDs.
“Rwanda’s leadership in the fight against NTDs is both impressive and inspiring. The First Lady’s role is critical given her platform and how these diseases intersect with so many other challenges we face – water and sanitation, education, and gender inequality, to name a few,”
“The brilliant partners who joined us for this reception will be critical to the continued progress in ending NTDs.”
NTDs affect more than 1.7 billion people – often those living in resource-constrained, remote communities and lacking access to basic needs like clean water.
While these diseases cost developing economies billions of dollars every year, supporting NTD programs is known as one of the “best buys in public health”: just 50 cents USD funds the delivery of medication to treat several of the most common NTDs, bringing huge social and economic returns through improved school attendance and productivity.
Significant progress has been made since the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which brought together partners across sectors, countries and disease communities to press for greater investment and action on NTDs. The Kigali Declaration builds upon the goals established by the London Declaration and emphasizes the importance of leadership from the individuals, communities, and governments that are most affected by NTDs to reach elimination by 2030.