International Conference on NTDs taking place this December in Kenya
Dr John Amuasi is Executive Director, African Research Network for NTDs and Co-Chair of the Lancet One Health Commission
The 1st International Conference on NTDs (IncoNTD) in Africa is jointly organised by the African Research Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (ARNTD), the Kenya Ministry of Health (MoH), and the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), and will be held at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya from 4–6 December 2019 under the theme: “Cross-border partnership towards achieving control and elimination of NTDs”.
For almost a decade, the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has become an important global health priority; having received specific mention by the African Union, the G7, and as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
NTDs have come into focus based on the realisation that beyond their direct negative impact on health, they contribute significantly to an ongoing cycle of poverty and stigma that leaves people unable to work, go to school, or participate in family and community life.
85% of global NTD burden is in Africa
Since the launch of the World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 roadmap to eradicate NTDs and the signing of the London Declaration in 2012, several pharmaceutical companies, funding agencies, institutions, and other groups in North America and Europe have prioritised research, interventions and advocacy for NTD control and elimination.
However, involvement and leadership from indigenous African entities has been limited, although over 85% of the global NTD burden is borne by the continent. The limited participation of Africa-based groups, institutions, and communities in NTD research, interventions and advocacy is in part due to the fact that indigenous Africa-based NTD organisations, networks and activities structured for engagement at the global level have been virtually absent.
Currently there are a number of high-profile international conferences that focus on diseases such as malaria, HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis; a number of which are organised and take place in Africa, such as the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) conferences. Even though the burden of NTDs exceeds that of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, there is no single scientific conference dedicated to NTDs as a whole in Africa.
The event will look at NTD control and elimination strategies, research, policy, and capacity building
It is however important to note that unlike malaria, HIV and AIDS and TB, NTDs encompass a number of diseases, and even among the NTDs, some have achieved greater prominence than others for various reasons, including their burden and prospects for elimination. In addition to the work on NTDs being spread across a number of diseases, work cuts across several disciplines such as basic research, social sciences etc.
An international conference on NTDs in Africa provides a unique opportunity for stakeholders whose work has focussed on NTDs in Africa, to come together under one forum to share their work and ideas ranging from discovery of new compounds that could be developed into drugs, to innovative NTD control and elimination initiatives in an organised fashion. IncoNTD provides a unique opportunity for Africa-focused NTD stakeholders to network and update each other on their work.
This conference will have scientific and business components, and can also be used as a prime face-to-face meeting ground for various funders and other stakeholders involved in NTDs. IncoNTD is an ideal setting for stakeholder organisations to meet and discuss needs in the domain of Africa-focused NTD control and elimination strategies, research, policy, and professional development or capacity building. IncoNTD is also an opportunity to foster coordination among stakeholders, to develop synergies and complementarities, and to avoid unnecessary duplication.
The plenary and scientific sessions of IncoNTD will focus on the following, among others:
- Strengthening government ownership, advocacy, coordination and partnerships
- Connecting basic research and clinical trials for drugs, vaccines and diagnostics to control efforts
- Translating research into policy, advocacy, and community engagement
- Operational and implementation research in NTD control and elimination
- Access to interventions, treatment and service delivery
- Monitoring and evaluation, surveillance and research on NTD control and elimination.