African health experts on Friday urged governments to channel additional resources towards prevention and treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that have worsened poverty in the continent.
John Amuasi, executive director for African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases based in Accra, Ghana said at a forum in Nairobi that public and private sector institutions should finance research aimed at finding a cure for these ancient ailments that mainly afflict low-income population.
“Governments and pharmaceutical companies should prioritize funding of research geared towards finding a cure for some of the NTDs blighting communities in remote outposts,” said Amuasi.
Kenya hosted the just concluded International Conference on NTDs in Africa that was attended by more than 200 delegates including policymakers, researchers and industry executives to discuss new strategies aimed at eradicating the centuries’ old ailments in the continent.
Amuasi said the bulk of victims of NTDs include communities living in rural areas, urban slums and conflict zones, and emphasized that control and elimination of NTDs should be considered a health priority for the continent.
“Beyond their direct negative impact on health, NTDs contribute significantly to an ongoing cycle of poverty and stigma that leaves people unable to work, go to school, or participate in economic activities to grow a community, “said Amuasi.
Sultan Matendechero, Kenya Country Program Manager for the NTDs said that political goodwill is key to their elimination.
He appealed to the African governments to make NTDs an agenda within the bilateral agreements saying the move will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to share ideas leading to the discovery of new drugs to boost their control.
“Africa bears over 85 percent of the global NTD burden, a reality attributed to a limited commitment by its government entities and this calls for better political goodwill in ensuring that these efforts bear fruits,” said Matendechero. Enditem