A new major partnership to help African countries reduce the burden of Neglected Diseases (NTDs) was launched in May 2016 by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Africa. The expanded special project is known for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN), and the purpose of the partnership is to provide national NTD programmes, fundraising and technical support to help eliminate and control the five NTDs that has the greatest side effect on the continent that affects millions of people around.
Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, the current Regional Director of the WHO Regional office Africa and the first woman to fill that high position sheds more light on the major objectives and goals of ESPEN.
She said “the experience I witnessed while I was growing was pathetic, seeing what the patients my parents cared for then go through at their clinic centre, with the constant illness, pains and suffering on a daily basis, coming in and out looking for solutions to their ailments was really a pitiable experience, because daily illness was really a daily reality for our neighbors.”
“From my experience as a physician, I know that daily pain and sicknesses is a real reality for millions of people all over the world, who are afflicted and affected with Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).”
NTDs are not killer diseases, but over the years, they sap people’s strength, consume their savings and destroy the quality of their lives. Preventing and treating NTDs is medically simple, and vast majority of drugs required to do that are majorly donated generously by pharmaceutical companies, and about 1.5 billion treatments in 2015 were donated globally.
NTDs are a group of treatable and preventable diseases that presents a heavy burden on the most isolated, poorest and marginalized communities in the world. These groups of disease cause over 150,000 deaths globally every year.
In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) made it clear that combating NTDs was key in helping communities break free of poverty.
Helping these millions of people, to fight against NTDs requires the collective efforts of affected countries, but much of that work is taking will happen through NTD programs in partnership with both private and public sectors.
To make these programs sustainable and productive, ESPEN has taken it upon them to support countries, and work better together with their partners to strengthen their strategic role in coordinating and convening partners support, for a successful delivery towards eradication.
The knowledge and necessary tools needed to ameliorate the abandoned suffering of millions of people are in our hands. I hope all African countries and partners will join force with ESPEN to treat those affected by NTDs by eradicating the devastating diseases of poverty that feasts on abandoned communities, and put better health systems in place for everyone.