Under the theme “Act together by investing in targeted wash interventions responding to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and malaria” the celebration was held at the Kigali Convention Centre to mark the effort of the government of Rwanda and its partners like the GHRU through the Rwanda Action on Podoconiosis.
The event was attended, among others, by stakeholders from civil society organizations and farmers. The combined efforts of eliminating NTDs in Rwanda saw the University of Rwanda and Brighton and Sussex Medical School through its researchers joining the Ministry of Health/RBC to celebrate the 11th World NTDs Day.
NTDs such as podoconiosis, affect over 1 billion people across the world, particularly in tropical countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Despite being treatable and preventable diseases, they ravage impoverished communities with devastating long-lasting impacts.
The keynote speaker reiterated that in Rwanda there are eight of the 20 diseases classified by WHO as NTDs are caused by a variety of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and toxins. According to Rwanda Biomedical Centre’s statistics, the prevalence of intestinal worms is 41% nationally with 48% of adults affected. Podoconiosis affects approximately 6,000 people annually, scabies 100,000 people, taeniasis 3,000 people, rabies from dog bites 1,000 people and snakebite 1,500 people.
The Division Manager of Malaria and other parasitic diseases remarked that according to WHO Rwanda has managed to eliminate sleeping sickness as of April 2022. Podoconiosis elimination will require combined efforts of all players, sound strategies, country ownership, dynamic partnership and most importantly community engagement.
He remarked that “NTDs are neglected because they do not receive the same attention as other diseases that affect the world”. He further stressed that going towards the 2030 global goals, Rwanda set a target to achieve 90% treatment of NTD-affected people and reduce by 75% of the disability-adjusted life years related to NTD.
A panel discussion was held and panellists showed concern about the difficulties NTD-affected people experience in access to clean water. The celebration closed with a networking dinner.