By Gift Briton

In commemoration of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) Day on 30th January, leading organizations and countries have renewed commitments to help strengthen efforts to end suffering and death caused by these diseases.

Heeding to global calls to increase investment in these diseases, Ghana, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), and Anesvad Foundation announced commitments including funding and drug donations, as well as new endorsements of the Kigali Declaration on NTDs (a high-level, political declaration that is mobilizing political will), community commitment, resources and action, and securing commitments needed to end the suffering caused by NTDs.

The President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo while endorsing the Kigali Declaration on NTDs, said that Ghana is fully committed to ending the diseases adding, “In Ghana, we are proud to be the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to have eliminated trachoma. We’ve also eliminated Guinea worm disease from our land. Further, we are on the brink of eliminating sleeping sickness and leprosy.  Investing in NTD elimination programmes creates a ripple effect in society, leads to better education, health, and employment outcomes and transforms lives and our communities. It helps reduce gender inequity and stigma.”

Ghana signed the Kigali Declaration on NTDs increasing the number of endemic country signatories to 12 including Botswana, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, United Republic of Tanzania, Timor Leste, Uganda, and Vanuatu.

The Declaration has garnered 61 signatories since its launch in June, mobilizing over $1.6 billion for NTDs and over 19 billion tablets/units of medicine. These include donor countries, pharmaceutical companies, multilateral organizations, NGOs, philanthropy organizations, civil society and community-based organizations, and others.

Also, Thomas Breuer, Chief Global Health Officer GSK, announced a donation of 100 million doses for soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) per year from 2026 to 2030 alongside an ongoing commitment to donate medicines until Lymphatic Filariasis is eliminated as a public health problem everywhere.

“I am delighted that GSK is further extending its donation commitment for soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) to 2030, a disease which affects 1.5 billion people per year, predominantly from the most underserved communities. At GSK, we remain 100% committed to ending NTDs in alignment with the WHO road map,” he said.

Furthermore, Iñigo Lasa, Director General, Anesvad Foundation, has also announced that the organization has signed the Kigali Declaration on NTDs to mobilise 34m€ until 2026 to reduce the burden of skin-NTDs in Sub-Saharan Africa. This adds to the $114.5 million appropriated by the United States government for the fiscal year 2023 to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to help control and eliminate five of the most burdensome NTDs.

“We are thrilled to see the incredible progress fighting NTDs buoyed by new commitments from our partners. NTDs have a devastating impact on the lives of affected individuals and communities, and it is crucial that we increase resources and action to control and eliminate these diseases. These new commitments are to be celebrated,” said Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Executive Director of Uniting to Combat NTDs.

“However, we can’t stop here. There is a financing crisis for NTDs. More resources are needed if we are to reach the targets of the WHO 2030 NTD road map and safeguard the hard-won gains of the past decades. This World NTD Day we are urging world leaders to act now, act together and invest in NTDs. Let’s end the suffering caused by NTDs forever!”