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The All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and the UK Coalition Against NTDs organised an event to commemorate World NTD Day, celebrated on 30th January.
The All-party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and the UK Coalition Against NTDs organised an event to commemorate World NTD Day, celebrated on 30th January. The event was attended by parliamentarians, healthcare professionals, global health organisations and members of the public.
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and Chair of the APPG on Malaria and NTDs, hosted the event, which included recorded statements from Dr Socé Fall, the newly appointed Director for NTDs at the World Health Organization, and Professor Getnet Tadele from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Dr Fall stated that NTD programmes are vehicles for greater social justice and called for greater investment in these programmes.
Professor Tadele highlighted the importance of valuing indigenous knowledge, stating:
“We are mutually interdependent – those from the global north have better technical expertise or competence and resources, while we, living and working in NTD-endemic countries, have deeper understanding of the context of the country. These must be valued equally.”
Attendees heard a powerful, personal account from Dr Subodha Handhi Galahitiyawa, Associate Lecturer at the University of The West of Scotland, about living with leprosy.
She recalled “I stigmatised myself. I was worried that if others found out I would be excluded and my family would be shunned. I completed my Bachelors and my Masters but I struggled to find a job and faced discrimination. It changed my perspective on life. We must learn how to establish a culture that includes working with people affected by these diseases because we are experts by our experience.”
Dr Charles Mowbray, Discovery Director at Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, added:
“We won’t make the progress that we need on all of those different neglected tropical diseases unless we have more tools and the right tools to really try and tackle the patients’ needs in the right way”.
Dr Harrison concluded:
“We really wanted to raise awareness in a very creative way and we know that having young people interpret NTDs through their own lens is often a good way of engaging different audiences. As you can see, the level of creativity and the number of respondents was really outstanding.”
The event closed with the winners of the Shine a Light poster competition organised by SCI Foundation, receiving their prizes from our CEO Dr Wendy Harrison, Catherine West MP and Virendra Sharma MP.