World NTD Day 2022: How People Around the World Are Celebrating

Ahead of World NTD Day, The Canadian Network for NTDs asked participants in its orientation session how they would be celebrating World NTD Day this year on January 30th.

One of our members living in Dhaka, Bangladesh said that they would arrange a seminar and a rally for NTDs, while a parasitologist and professor from Miami said that he would listen to podcasts on NTDs. Another response came from the LEPRA Society India – an organization supporting people and communities affected by leprosy in India. They planned to organize a Leprosy awareness bike ride on World NTD Day. This is a fun, positive and very public action that cuts deep into the isolation, stigma and despair that people with leprosy often face.

Others are digging in a little deeper into their NTD prevention, treatment and control work. Like the McGill University team working to develop a vaccine for schistosomiasis, another participant – a lab technologist from Uganda said that they would spend their day continuing to work on a collaborative project to help develop a schistosomiasis vaccine in Uganda. This is in partnership with the Medical Research Council, the Uganda Virus Research Institute and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Janna Schurer, from the University of Global Health Equity is a Canadian scientist based in Rwanda working on multi-country NTD control projects. On January 30th, she will be supporting government NTD community screening. She and the locally-based teams that she supports work on some of the most neglected and under-funded of all of the NTDs, such as snake bite envenoming and podoconiosis or ‘mossy foot’, a form of non-filarial elephantiasis. Many of the 20 NTDs are truly under-funded relative to their scale as a public health problem. Other neglected diseases such as Noma – a rare necrotizing bacterial infection of the mouth and face that mostly affects malnourished children – has prompted campaigns by MSF, among others, for inclusion on the WHO list of NTDs. When officially recognized as a neglected tropical disease, there is typically more opportunity to channel funding in the direction of research and programs to prevent and treat the disease.

While NTDs are devastating and require serious work, commitment and resources, World NTD Day is also about thanking all the people working tirelessly to end NTDs. Their commitment, flexibility and perseverance during the Covid-19 pandemic have meant that 757 million people still received the treatment needed to prevent and treat NTDs, in spite of the global pandemic.

One of the brilliant things happening on World NTD Day is a massive global light up campaign where this year 100 landmarks in more than 30 countries will be lit in orange and purple – the World NTD Day colors. Illuminating 100 landmarks is a symbol of the WHO NTD Road Map Goal 2030 of 100 countries eliminating at least 1 NTD by 2030 – an ambitious but achievable goal!

This year, in addition to lighting the Calgary & CN Towers in Canada, we will also be lighting up Niagara Falls – a binational landmark that symbolizes the power of collaboration to overcome the monumental task of ending NTDs globally. Global NTDs goals deserve the grand, international recognition that Niagara Falls lends it, a result of collaboration between the Canadian Network for NTDs and the Carter Center – a global champion for Guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma, schistosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis.

Canadians and Canadian organizations like the Canadian Network for NTDs and its network of partners (Effect Hope, Seva, Orbis, Canadian Association for Global Health, Public Health Insight, among others) and researchers contribute greatly to the prevention and treatment of NTDs globally. But none of this work can continue without commitment and collaboration towards the WHO NTD Road Map 2030 goals. To this end, on World NTD Day and everyday thereafter this year until it is done, the Canadian Network for NTDs will be asking civil society and the Canadian government to sign the Kigali Declaration – a high-level policy document highlighting the commitments made by multi-stakeholders to end NTDs. Canada’s signature to the Kigali declaration will go a long way to achieving global health equity. We can prevent and treat NTDs by investing in new and existing solutions, and by committing 100% to ending NTDs.

Please see our 100% Committed Kigali Declaration for NTDs Video: