On January 30, 2021, countries across West Africa brought awareness to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and the devastating effects they have on communities by celebrating the second annual World NTD Day.
In Benin and Senegal, the national neglected tropical disease programs (NTDP), with support from partners such as USAID's Act to End NTDs | West Program (Act | West), celebrated the day by giving presentations about NTDs to medical students; hosting NTD exhibit and panel discussions for decision-makers, students, teachers, the media, and the general public; and granting radio and TV interviews. In Senegal, the participants even signed a charter of commitment to fight against NTDS!
In addition to staging public lectures and giving out information and World NTD Day materials, Ghana's NTDP invited the drama group at the University of Ghana to showcase their creative skills by presenting an NTD-themed skit for the audience. The country's NTD ambassador Dr. Joyce Aryee and other NTD program officials took to the airwaves on national radio and TV to raise NTD awareness via videos and in-person interviews.
Cote d'Ivoire's Deputy Director General of Health was in attendance at the panel discussion on NTDS held at Lorougnon Guede University in Daloa for students, teachers, and the general public.
Cameroon, Guinea and Niger celebrated the day by holding press conferences, giving presentations at local universities, and broadcasting televised speeches by health ministry officials. Cameroon's national NTD program intends to honor local NTD heroes with medals in the coming weeks. Guinea commissioned an NTD fresco and held an awareness-raising conference at Kofi Annan University. Niger trained 30 elementary school students as NTD ambassadors in Koutoukalé, a village located about 50 km from the capital, Niamey, and organized several activities with print and TV media,
Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone opted for fully virtual World NTD Day celebrations. In Burkina Faso, the NTDP coordinator made an appearance on the evening news to raise NTD awareness. Sierra Leone organized a World NTD Day Zoom celebration.
Togo is carrying out mass NTD treatment campaigns in communities across the country this month. Togo also plans to hold several NTD awareness-raising press conferences later in February
Today over 93 million people in Act | West-supported countries no longer require treatment for lymphatic filariasis and over 65 million people no longer need trachoma treatments. "Sustaining neglected tropical disease program gains is paramount! Our approach cannot be touch and go, it has to be a collective effort with collective execution — this is how you sustain an activity," said Bolivar Pou, Act to End NTDs | West Program Director, FHI 360.