Parliamentarians From Africa Join Global Call On G7 Leaders To Invest In Neglected Tropical Diseases
By Wallace Mawire
As the 49th G7 Summit in Hiroshima approaches, G7 Leaders have been urged to renew their commitments to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by prioritizing bold action and investment to end the diseases once and for all.
NTDs are a group of twenty preventable and treatable diseases that affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide. These diseases cause untold suffering, can disable, disfigure, and be fatal. In addition to the human toll, NTDs have a significant economic impact, resulting in billions of dollars in associated costs and lost productivity each year.
The call says that as parliamentarians and legislators, they are proud of their long history of fighting NTDs. Over the years,the contributions are reported to have had a significant impact on people’s lives.
Incredible progress has been made with 47 countries having eliminated at least one NTD, with several countries having eliminated two, three or four NTDs, and in 2020, 600 million fewer people required interventions against NTDs than in 2010.
The parliamentarians say that funding NTDs makes good financial sense. They add that many low-cost interventions for NTDs exist, are affordable to implement in low-income settings, and yield a robust return on investment. Drug donations for interventions like preventive chemotherapy, for example, have been particularly efficacious and cost- effective, with over 19 billion tablets donated by the pharmaceutical industry to deliver the World Health Organization (WHO) NTD road map so far.
They says that the end of NTDs offers a net benefit to affected individuals of about US$25 for every dollar invested by funders—a 30 percent annualized rate of return.
They however say that , setbacks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and global economic slowdowns are threatening the progress made to date.
‘Unless sustained action is taken, there is a real risk of a reversal of gains and more people being pushed into poverty due to preventable diseases,” the call says.
Tt is added that the G7 has a well-established history of taking important action against pressing global health issues and has notably prioritised neglected and poverty-related diseases during past Summits.
“We commend the G7 for making clear commitments to invest in the prevention and control of NTDs during the 2015 Elmau Summit to help reach critical global elimination targets. These commitments led to expanded support to affected countries and accelerated critical research and development. More recently, we applaud the G7’s commitment to strengthening global capacity to prevent, prepare for, and respond to future global health emergencies, especially through the G7 Pact for Pandemic Readiness endorsed in Elmau in 2022,” they say .
It is added that investing in NTD programmes is critical to achieving the G7 priorities of universal health coverage (UHC) and pandemic preparedness, prevention, and response (Pandemic PPR) efforts. Global health
emergencies, like COVID-19, stem from persistent underinvestment in global health, insufficient disease surveillance, inadequate global data sharing, and weak health systems, compounded by inadequate pandemic preparedness. Investing in fighting ongoing epidemics like NTDs, as well as malaria, HIV, and TB, leads to stronger health systems and workforces that are better equipped to detect and respond to both existing epidemics and future outbreaks of new diseases. Eliminating one or more NTDs also requires the establishment of robust disease surveillance systems, which can also improve early detection of new health threats, allowing for a faster and more effective response.
Equally, the scope and access of NTD programmes to some of the world’s poorest communities can provide a gateway to achieving UHC. In some settings, NTD programmes represents a community’s first entry point to the health system. Training health workers to provide high-quality treatment, conducting disease surveillance, and encouraging referral to the local health facility helps to strengthen health
systems. Investments in NTD programmes expand access to health services to hard-to-reach populations and frees up capacity to address other health issues. As such, we call on the G7 to ensure that NTDs and other infectious diseases are included in new commitments being made, particularly funding for UHC.
They add that when the G7 acts together, they can achieve ambitious goals.
The parliamentarians say that they believe that the G7 has a critical role to play in renewing support to end NTDs, and in ensuring that this support is backed by concrete actions and financial commitments.
They have acknowledged and commended the G7’s leaders endorsement of the Kigali Declaration on NTDs, a country-led, landmark political declaration that is mobilizing political will, community commitment, resources and action, and securing commitments needed to end suffering caused by NTDs. They have called on G7 Leaders to continue to meet their NTD commitments with concrete action and robust resources, to further prioritise NTDs in successive G7 Leaders’ Statements, and to champion NTDs at G20 Summits and other high-level political fora.commitment, resources and action, and securing commitments needed to end suffering caused by NTDs, G7 Leaders’ have been commended for longstanding commitment to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and for prioritising UHC at the 49th Summit. The scope and access of NTD programmes to some of the world’s poorest communities are a gateway to achieving UHC and an indicator for equity.
They have been urged to advocate for investments in primary healthcare to help reach UHC targets, as well as funding for NTDs as part of new UHC commitments at the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in September 2023,G7 nations have been commended for historic and continued investments in product development and to Research and Development, through partners such as the Global Health Innovative Technology Fund (GHIT) and Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).
They have called on G7 leaders to increase investments in research and innovation for vaccines, new drugs and diagnostics, to help reach the goals set out in the World Health Organization’s NTD road map, as well as financing to ensure access of these innovations and technologies to the most vulnerable populations affected by neglected tropical diseases,they have also applauded the G7 for strengthening their investment in pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. Investing in fighting ongoing epidemics – including NTDs, malaria, HIV, and TB – is critical to strengthening the world’s capacity to prepare for future pandemics.
They have also called on the G7 to advocate for control and prevention of current epidemics, particularly NTDs, as part of the UN High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response in September 2023.
The parliamentarians and legislators also celebrate the financial commitments G7 countries have made against NTDs, and we call on G7 leaders to sustain or increase bilateral and multilateral support to low- and middle-income countries, and to commit to establishing accountability mechanisms to track these commitments. Such support will help to ensure that these countries have the resources they need to address the NTD crisis and prevent future outbreaks.
G7 Leaders have been urged to prioritise action and investment towards ending NTDs.
This is reported to be a critical issue that requires urgent attention and global cooperation to prevent further harm to individuals and communities.
‘The NTD crisis not only affects public health but also has a significant economic impact. If left unaddressed, it will drive more people into poverty and reverse decades worth of progress. Tackling NTDs is essential to G7 priorities to improve Pandemic PPR and the achievement of UHC,” according to the call.
The Global Parliamentarians who have made the call Hon. Rozaina Adam, Member of Parliament, Maldives
Hon. Njume Peter Ambang, Founder and Executive President of Parliamentary Network for Sustainable Development Goals, National Assembly of Cameroon, Cameroon,Hon. Dr. Kozo Akino, State Minister of Finance, Member of the House of Councillors, Japan,Dr. Éctor Jaime Ramírez Barba, MD, PhD, Federal Deputy, Mexico
The Baroness Barker, Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom,Petra Bayr MP, Chairperson of the Sub-Committee for Development and Cooperation, National Assembly, Austria,Dr. Angela Brown-Burke, Member of Parliament, Jamaica,Hon. Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Member of the European Parliament, Italy,Amb. Akua Sena Dansua, Global Board Member and Regional Chair, West and Central Africa of UNITE Parliamentarians Network for Global Health, Ghana,Patrick Grady MP, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom,Hon. Benjamin Okezie Kalu, Member of Parliament, Nigeria,Hon. Cde Eleven Kambizi, Senator, Zimbabwe,Dr. Georg Kippels, MdB, Member of the German Bundestag, Germany,Hon. Dr Ayano Kunimitsu, Member of the House of Representatives, Japan
Pauline Latham OBE MP, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom,Jeremy Lefroy, Former MP and Chair of the APPG on Malaria and NTDs (2010-2019), United Kingdom,Sen. Emilio Álvarez Icaza Longoria, Senator, Mexico
Hon. Rosette Christine Mutambi, Member of Parliament, Uganda,Hon. Mbongyor Naomi Ngando, Member of Parliament for Ndu, Education Committee, Cameroon,Prof António Rosário Niquice, Member of Parliament and Chair of Budget Committee, Mozambique.Dip. Saraí Núñez-Cerón, Diputada Federal de la República Mexicana, Mexico,Rt Hon. Sir Stephen R O’Brien KBE, Former UK International Development Minister, Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs & Emergency Relief Coordinator,Senator Dr Ibrahim Yahaya Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Nigeria,Jorge Luis Mazorra Ortiz, Member of Parliament, Cuba,Hon. Esther M Passaris OGW, Member of Parliament, Kenya,Hon. Syed Naveed Qamar, Commerce Minister of Pakistan, President PGA, Pakistan,Congressman Fabio J. Quetglas, Member of National Congress, Argentina,Hon. Marko Raidza, Member of Parliament, Zimbabwe,Senator Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia, Senator, Canada,Prof. Pedro Ruiz-Castell, Member of the Valencian Parliament, Spain,Marta Pilar Bravo Salinas, Member of the Chamber of Deputies, Chile,Dr. Esther Cuesta Santana, Member of the National Assembly and Legislator, Ecuador and the Baroness Sugg CBE, Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom
Alison The wliss MP, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom,Prof. The Lord Alexander Trees, Crossbench Peer,House of Lords, United Kingdom,Prof. Dr. Andrew Ullmann, Member of the German Bundestag, Germany and Hon. Larry P. Younquoi, House of Representatives, Liberia.