Civil society organisations (CSOs) have joined together in Dakar, Senegal, to create Africa’s first civil society network for Neglected Tropical Diseases – the Civil Society Says No to NTDs Coalition. This coalition will provide a network for CSOs to consult and collaborate to maximise their efforts in fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases, particularly around their aim of increasing sustainable funding for NTD control programs.
The new civil society coalition was formed to enable member CSOs to take NTD control and elimination into their own hands to save millions of lives against these diseases. Founding members of the Civil Society Say No to NTDs Coalition include: Speak Up Africa, Alliance Nationale des Jeunes pour la Santé de la Reproduction et de la Planification Familiale (ANJ-SR-pf), Environnement, Communautés, Santé et Sécurité (ECOSS), Hope for African Children Initiative (HACI), Contribution au Développement Rural (CDR), Union pour le Développement et la Coopération (UDEC), and Jeunesse Secours and Alliance des Femmes pour l’Égalité et le Genre en Guinée (AFEGGUI). The coalition is open to all civil society organisations.
Several key objectives for the coalition have been established, including creating a connected, integrated, collaborative African CSO network; building CSO capacity to develop and implement locally relevant advocacy strategies; and engaging parliamentarians on policy and budget support for sustainable NTD control and elimination programmes.
To support the newly formed coalition, policy and advocacy tank Speak Up Africa delivered a training for all group members. The training sessions were designed to provide the CSOs with the tools they need to implement effective advocacy programmes, and to convey the importance of public health advocacy to accelerate the elimination of NTDs such as trachoma and schistosomiasis, which are some of the most common NTDs in Africa.
Yacine Djibo, Founder at Speak Up Africa said: “The elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases will require the involvement and commitment of all levels of society, which is why the formation of the Civil Society Says No to NTD Coalition is such an important step towards reaching our end goal of raising NTDs high on the public health agenda of African countries. This network will enable CSOs to collaborate, exchange their expertise on NTD-related issues and amplify their voices to truly drive change. We look forward to seeing what can be achieved when we work together even more closely.”
Salomon Yedidya, Managing Director of Jeunesse Secours Guinée said: “We strongly welcome the formation of the new CSO coalition against NTDs. Working together, we will be empowered to improve governance at both national and regional levels, build accountability and increase ownership of NTD-related issues. With NTD’s affecting 600 million people across Africa, it is crucial that NTDs are top of the health agenda, and coalitions like this go a long way in ensuring that we act in the most effective manner.”
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases which affect more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, 39% of whom live in Africa. They thrive in areas where access to healthcare, adequate sanitation and clean water is limited, such as in remote and rural areas or informal settlements. As a result, they affect some of the continents’ poorest and remote communities.
The formation of the Civil Society Says No to NTDs Coalition will play a key role in progressing the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) NTD 2030 roadmap, which aims for a 90% reduction in the number of people requiring interventions against NTDs by 2030.