2023 Annual Meeting of National NTD Programme Managers from the WHO Africa Region


The WHO's NTD roadmap for 2021-2030, launched in early 2021, focuses on controlling, eliminating, and eradicating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) despite COVID-19 disruptions. Ten countries have eliminated specific NTDs, and strategic frameworks for NTDs in Africa have been endorsed. Mid-term reviews in 2023 will assess progress and address challenges, with emphasis on overcoming delays and funding reductions.

Notable achievements include a reduction in individuals needing NTD interventions by 80 million in 2021 and the elimination of NTDs in ten African countries. Seven countries have been validated for eliminating Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), and six for trachoma. Togo is distinguished for eliminating four NTDs and interrupting dracunculiasis transmission. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with 41 other African countries, is certified dracunculiasis-free. Cameroon launched a yaws eradication campaign, followed by the Central African Republic and Congo.

While leprosy elimination has been successful in almost all African WHO countries, transmission interruption remains a goal. Buruli ulcer and visceral leishmaniasis cases have declined significantly. The WHO Africa region supports countries in developing integrated NTD master plans.

The progress reflects the importance of country ownership and accessible NTD services, emphasizing integration, collaboration, and accountability. Investment in NTD eradication is crucial, involving a global partnership of various stakeholders.

In light of these developments, the Regional Tropical and Vector-Borne Diseases Programme and ESPEN plan convened the Annual Regional NTD Programme Managers meeting from 29 November to 1 December 2023 to discuss these issues and set future directions.

Why the meeting is so important for WHO-AFRO?

NTDs are already neglected in various aspects, and recently, funding for NTDs has become significantly challenging. This situation is likely to hinder our ability to achieve the targets outlined in the Global NTD Framework and make a meaningful contribution to the attainment of Sustainable Development Goal 3.3. It is crucial that we urgently intensify advocacy efforts to secure resources and review current national plans to realign and prioritize activities that will have a more positive impact on public health. Furthermore, country ownership and mobilization of domestic funding empower countries to address NTDs in a sustainable, targeted, and accountable manner. It enables them to allocate resources according to their specific needs, engage local communities, and strengthen health systems. This holistic approach is essential for long-term success in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

The purpose of this meeting is to provide guidance and cross-learning through guided panel discussions and data sharing, to accelerate the implementation progress of the WHO NTD Roadmap 2021-2030 in the WHO African Region. It aims to discuss the obstacles encountered and identify opportunities to enhance country ownership and mobilize increased resources, including local funding, for NTDs. Given that the recently developed national NTD Master Plans reflect country ownership and align with the first milestone of the NTD Roadmap in 2023, this meeting serves as an opportune moment to review and explore innovative approaches for implementing the National master plans. The agenda has been designed to address this crucial aspect.

Objectives and Expected Outcomes

General Objective

The primary aim of this meeting is to evaluate the progress of National NTD programs since the introduction of the WHO NTD Roadmap in 2021. This includes aligning National NTD Master Plans with the WHO NTD Roadmap 2021-2030, addressing challenges, exchanging experiences and opportunities, and crafting recommendations for enhancing country ownership to accelerate programmatic actions, following the WHO NTD roadmap Companion Document on Sustainability Framework 2021-2030.

The meeting will serve as a forum for countries to assess their achievements against the NTD Roadmap 2021-2030 goals, using the WHO global annual reporting form (GARF) tool. It will facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices, identifying areas for improvement, and discussing strategies to address challenges. The goal is to reinforce country ownership, ensuring national programs lead in NTD interventions and target achievement.

The anticipated outcome is the development of actionable recommendations and strategies to bolster country ownership and expedite NTD program implementation. This includes promoting collaborative learning, sharing best practices, and enabling countries to effectively prioritize actions and mobilize resources for their NTD initiatives.

Specific Objectives
  • Exchange insights, opportunities, and challenges encountered in implementing the WHO roadmap and NTD master plans, utilizing various tools and reports.
  • Present technical updates and innovations from WHO and advanced countries regarding the integration, resource mobilization, and mainstreaming of NTD interventions in national health systems.
  • Outline strategies to fortify country ownership, including methods to ensure effective coordination and collaboration.
  • Assist in operational planning of NTD activities at the country level, aligning with the Global NTD roadmap and the regional framework for the integrated control, elimination, and eradication of tropical and vector-borne diseases.
Expected Outcomes
  • Shared experiences, opportunities, and challenges in implementing the WHO roadmap and NTD master plans.
  • Presentation of technical updates and innovative practices in NTD intervention integration, resource mobilization, and mainstreaming within national health systems.
  • Adoption of strategies to enhance country ownership, with mechanisms for effective coordination and collaboration.
  • Availability of operational plans and identification of funding gaps for focus countries.