Event in Parliament for greater awareness of and investment in neglected tropical diseases

World NTD Day was celebrated on the 30th of January. The UK Coalition Against NTDs and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) organized a commemorative event.

A commemoration of World NTD Day was held by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases and the UK Coalition Against NTDs. Parliamentarians, healthcare providers, global health organizations, and members of the public attended the event.

Above: Aishwarya Janakan, a winner of our Shine A Light poster competition, said, “I chose leprosy and elephantiasis because I could see clearly how having these conditions might change how people think about you and how treating you differently can affect your life.” Credit: Paula Plaza/SCI Foundation

Catherine West, MP of Hornsey & Wood Green, Chair of the APPG for Malaria and NTDs, hosted the event. It included recorded statements by Dr Soce Fall, the newly-appointed Director for NTDs for the World Health Organization, and Professor Getnet Tadele from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Dr Fall said that NTD programs are vehicles for social justice and called for more investment in these programs.

Professor Tadele stressed the importance of indigenous knowledge by saying:

“We are interdependent – those in the global north possess better technical expertise, competence, and resources while we who live and work in countries with NTDs have a deeper understanding of their context.” They must be valued equally.”

The audience heard Dr Subodha Galahitiyawa’s powerful and personal account of living with leprosy. She is an Associate Lecturer at The University of The West of Scotland.

Above: Anusha Shrivastava, a winner of our Shine a Light poster competition, said, “I was inspired to create this poster because I was curious about what NTDs are and wanted to research it further.” Credit: Paula Plaza/SCI Foundation.

She said, “I stigmatised me. I was afraid that my family and I would be rejected if other people found out. I finished my Bachelors and Masters, but faced discrimination and struggled to get a job. My perspective on life changed. We must establish a culture where we work with people who are affected by these diseases, because our experience is an expert.”

Dr Charles Mowbray added that he is the Discovery Director for the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative.

Above: CEO of SCI Foundation, Dr Wendy Harrison, and Sahara Aziz, a winner of our Shine A Light poster competition. Sahara said, “I was inspired to create this poster because I feel like people who suffer with any tropical disease must feel like they are drowning, and are just waiting to see the light.” Credit: Paula Plaza/SCI Foundation

“We will not make the progress we need in all those neglected tropical diseases until we have the right tools, and more tools, to try and really address the needs of the patients the right way.”

Dr Harrison concluded

“We wanted to raise the awareness of NTDs creatively, and we knew that having youth interpret them through their lenses is often a great way to engage different audiences. You can see that the creativity of the participants and the sheer number of responses was outstanding.

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The event concluded with the Shine a Light Poster Competition organized by the SCI Foundation. Our CEO, Dr Wendy Harrison, Catherine West, MP, and Virendra Singh, MP, presented the prizes to the winners.

Professor Gyapong:

“With less that a decade left to achieve sustainable development goals, and plans to implement an entirely new strategy, my co-President Dr Wendy Harrison and myself pledge to work closely with key stakeholders to identify and address current global health challenges as best we can.”

“I am thrilled to contribute as coPresident. I will bring together a diverse array of global experts to not only drive RSTMH’s priorities forward but also to address the broader challenges we face today in a changing global health landscape,” said Dr Harrison.

RSTMH aims to improve tropical medicine through increased awareness.

Access and equity in global health care

Unlimited Health congratulates Professor Gyapong and Dr Harrison on their respective awards.

RSTMH wishes RSTMH all the best in their future priorities.

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