The first WHO global meeting on skin Neglected Tropical Diseases calls for greater integration.

This first WHO global meeting explored how to better integrate case management of skin NTDs using cross-cutting approaches, to increase cost–effectiveness and expand coverage across the health sector.

A healthcare worker guides a podoconiosis patient on how to wash his leg to help treat the disease.
A healthcare worker guides a podoconiosis patient on how to wash his leg to help treat the disease. Photo by Dr. Alex Kumar, 2018

About 800 participants from 86 countries, including several from BSMS-NIHR projects, attended the first global meeting on skin-related neglected tropical diseases (skin NTDs), hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27-31 March 2023.

Prof. Gail Davey Co-Director of the 5S Foundation delivered a keynote presentation on the theme of “Operational research for skin NTDs – what are the critical needs” as part of the Operational Research session.

Prof. Davey’s talk focused on three key messages:
  • Identifying cross-disease research gaps has been a historical challenge;
  • The WHO can play a convener role to strengthen the channels and fora that support the identification of these research gaps;
  • There is still a relative lack of social science research that could support these processes, as identified during a workshop hosted at the 2021 annual meeting of the Coalition for Operational Research on NTDs (read a paper based on this workshop here).

Ahead of the event, she expressed her hopes that the meeting will: “signal a real commitment from WHO’s newly appointed director of NTDs, Dr Socé Fall, to collaborative multisectoral integration across NTDs. Because, despite integration being one of the ambitions of the 2030 Roadmap, only a few countries are currently implementing integrated NTDs strategies”

Participants included representatives of youth and civil society groups, ministries of health, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, partners and donors. Academic and research institutions were also in attendance, including five representatives from the Global Health Research Unit on NTDs and the 5S Foundation, both BSMS-NIHR-funded projects.

Evaluating the Impact of a social intervention

Dr. Kibur Engdawork, a Postdoctoral Fellow based at The Department of Sociology, OSSREA, Addis Ababa University, gave a talk on the impact of a social intervention on podoconiosis-related stigma in Northwestern Ethiopia. Dr. Engdawork’s presentation stressed the importance of understanding the structural issues that affect implementation, such as cultural norms around gender (context), insufficient follow-up (implementation) and lack of funding for ‘drugless’ diseases (setting).

You can read a report of the meeting on the WHO website here.

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