The 4th World NTD Day was feted in style on January 30, 2023, by 8 of the 11 countries in USAID’s Act to End NTDs | West program*. The annual international observance marks progress toward eliminating or controlling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and brings awareness to the five NTDs covered by the Act | West program.
Celebrations kicked off in Benin with a health walk, which welcomed civil society organizations to the Goho d’Abomey Place in Abomey. Place Goho was bustling on World NTD Day as the meeting spot also hosted an official ceremony, Ideas Fair, series of key messages around NTDs, activity stalls, and a presentation for local school-aged children around schistosomiases and soil-transmitted helminthiases.
Cameroon formally adopted strategic plans to eliminate onchocerciasis, manage morbidity, and prevent disability linked to lymphatic filariasis. This event included a brief presentation, speeches by government officials and an exchange with local media.
As part of Ghana’s health walk before the start of their commemoration, participants walked through Accra with placards bearing key NTD messages. Later in the day, a commemoration event featured a sketch from a local drama group to highlight the challenges in health equity of NTD services. Using this year’s World NTD Day theme of “Act now, act together, invest in NTDs,” Guinea’s celebration included a marching band, exhibition stands, speeches, and a panel discussion and screening of several NTD-centered films. During the event, health workers were on standby to conduct NTD testing to diagnose human African trypanosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis.
In Senegal, a documentary film screening, NTD presentation, a sketch by Kaolack community actors, and speeches by WHO and the Ministry of Health helped boost public awareness of NTDs. Sierra Leone held a health walk in Makeni and booked spots on both radio and TV to share the effects of NTDs with the public. They also organized a panel discussion on the topic of “Road to the elimination of NTDs in Sierra Leone, prospects, challenges and the way forward.”
Both Niger and Togo’s commemorations featured speeches by government officials and key partner organizations. In Niger, a conference for health school students was held following the main ceremony, which featured short presentations. Following World NTD Day, Togo organized free donations of NTD medications in two communities.
Since the start of the Act | West program in 2018, its 11 countries have distributed 297.1 million treatments and trained over 670,100 community drug distributors and teachers trained on how to disperse drugs.
As of February 2023, nine Act | West countries have developed NTD sustainability plans towards ensuring the ongoing delivery of NTD services, six countries have created cross-sector coordination mechanisms to collaboratively implement those plans, and four countries have conducted high-level stakeholder engagement to mobilize domestic financial resources to sustain NTD program work.
In addition, since last year’s World NTD Day, one country (Togo) was validated by the WHO as eliminated trachoma as a public health problem; a second country has submitted its trachoma elimination dossier for review, and a third will be submitting its onchocerciasis elimination dossier later this year.