Annual Meetings of National NTD Programme Managers in the WHO Africa Region
The Annual Meeting of National NTD Programme Managers in the WHO Africa Region stands as a testament to our collective resolve in the ongoing battle against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). In the face of unprecedented global challenges, these meetings have emerged as pivotal gatherings for sharing knowledge, aligning strategies, and reinforcing our commitment to public health and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Background and Significance
The journey of the past few years, notably marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, has underscored the importance of resilience and adaptability in healthcare. The launch of the WHO NTD Roadmap 2021-2030 and the endorsement of various strategic frameworks, including the WHO/AFRO Tropical and Vector-borne Diseases (TVD) strategic framework and the WHO strategic framework for the integration of skin NTDs, have charted a new course for our collective efforts.
Remarkable strides have been made, with ten African countries eliminating specific NTDs and significant reductions in the number of individuals requiring NTD interventions. The achievement of Togo, becoming the first country globally to receive WHO validation for eliminating four NTDs, stands as a beacon of hope and possibility.
The Need for Annual Meetings
These meetings are more than just a congregation of minds; they are a rallying point for action. The challenges of funding and resource allocation, especially in the wake of the pandemic, have brought to the fore the urgency of advocacy, innovative resource mobilization, and the criticality of country ownership. These gatherings serve as a platform for sharing best practices, technical updates, and fostering cross-sectoral collaborations, crucial for sustaining momentum and adapting to evolving public health landscapes.
Objectives and Expected Outcomes
The general objective of these meetings is to review progress, align national NTD Master Plans with the WHO NTD Roadmap, and foster stronger country ownership for accelerating programmatic action. Specific objectives include sharing experiences and challenges, providing technical and innovative updates, highlighting strategies for strengthening country ownership and supporting operational planning at the country level.
Expected outcomes encompass a shared understanding of the challenges and opportunities in NTD implementation, the adoption of strategies for effective coordination and collaboration, and the development of operational plans to close funding gaps and achieve regional targets.
The Way Forward
As we move forward, the focus on integration, structural support, and leveraging data analytical tools like the ESPEN portal becomes increasingly vital. The integration of NTDs with other communicable and non-communicable diseases under the UHC-CND framework is a strategic step towards achieving our goals.