Daring to See the End of NTDs: The Canadian Network for NTDs Welcomes WHO NTD Programme Director on 1st Visit to Canada, June 1st, 2023

On June 1st, 2023, The Canadian Network for NTDs welcomed Dr. Ibrahima Socé Fall, Director of the Global Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme, WHO, and Dr. Anthony Solomon, Chief Scientist, Global Neglected Tropical Diseases Programme, WHO, on their first visit to Canada together.

Both Dr. Fall and Dr. Solomon were invited to attend a Canadian civil society organizations (CSO) roundtable to discuss the integration of NTD prevention and treatment into their current work, and existing gaps in NTD programs and services globally.  Representatives from 10 Canadian organizations participated and engaged with Dr. Fall to learn about the WHO’s strategy on NTD elimination. Dr. Fall’s spoke about prioritizing greater integration of NTD prevention and treatment, supported by more robust funding to meet the scale of the global health challenge NTDs present.

In addition to this event, Dr. Fall was welcomed and introduced to the Senate of Canada during his visit, and attended a Parliamentary Reception celebrating Canada’s one-year anniversary of its Kigali Declaration on NTDs endorsement as a special guest. This event was co-hosted with Honourable Senators Stanley Kutcher and Peter M. Boehm.  Approx. 60+ attendees were present at the event including civil society, students, Senators and representatives from Global Affairs Canada. Speakers at the event included Dr. Fall from the WHO, Dr. Alison Krentel from the Canadian Network for NTDs, Honourable Anita Vandenbeld, P.C., M.P. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development and the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, and Honourable Senators Stanley Kutcher and Peter M Boehm.

In her address to the audience, the Honourable Anita Vendenbeld welcomed the guidance of the Canadian Network for NTDs and Uniting to Combat NTDs in advising the Government of Canada on investing in NTD elimination strategies. Canada’s endorsement of the Kigali Declaration in June of last year committed to “advocate for the inclusion of NTDs when implementing health care services, and that primary health care takes a gender-based approach to reduce the impact of these diseases”.  She emphasized the need to address NTDs as a gender equality and human rights issue, highlighting the importance of building strategies that are multi-sectoral, including the integration of water, sanitation and hygiene in the prevention and control of NTDs. She stated that Canada encourages all affected countries to implement sustainable national action plans to eliminate NTDs.

The Honourable Senator Kutcher stated that it is time for action for NTDs- inaction is not an option. He congratulated Canada on its political commitment to the Kigali Declaration on NTDs and encouraged our government to commit the resources needed to help end the neglect of NTDs. The Honourable Senator Peter M. Boehm noted that relatively small investments can go a long way in preventing NTDs.

Dr. Alison Krentel reiterated the call for action to support the WHO NTD Roadmap 2030 goals. She stated that investment and action in NTDs means families will be free from the disfigurement, disability and stigma that accompany NTDs. She ended her speech with a call to ‘dare to do what’s necessary to see the end of NTDs’.

Dr. Fall’s speech emphasized the lack of investment NTDs hold claim to compared to health emergencies, and to HIV, Malaria and TB, including investments enjoyed by the Global Fund, Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance and the Pandemic Fund. He emphasized the need to position NTDs so that we can achieve universal health coverage (UHC). He also noting that NTDs have made great strides towards current elimination targets, with 49 countries having already eliminated at least one NTD to date.

The Canadian Network for NTDs and its members continue to advocate for investments in new NTD initiatives by the Government of Canada to support its political commitment under the Kigali Declaration on NTDs one year ago. Even modest investments in NTD prevention and treatment programs have demonstrated considerable impact for the people and communities that continue to live with or at risk of NTDs. 5 of the most common NTDs (Trachoma, Onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, Lymphatic Filariasis) can be prevented and treated for less than the cost of a cup of coffee, per person per year. Alternatively, the cost of inaction for NTDs is considerably high. Repeated and untreated NTD infections result in debilitating and often disfiguring long-term sequalae; and require levels of care that go far beyond the primary health care system.

The Canadian Network for NTDs was created 5 years ago with a mission to advocate for greater Canadian engagement & investment in the global NTD movement. It’s vision is a world without NTDs. It is a member-based organization, with 13 Organizational members, and 230 individual Canadian and International members. To learn more about the Network, please contact us a info@cnntd.org