Rwanda has announced that it will host a global Summit on
malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) on 25 June 2020, on the
sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali.
The Kigali Summit on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases
will be the first formal gathering to bring united global attention and
calls-to-action to ending these preventable yet often deadly diseases that have
plagued humans for thousands of years.
Half the world is at risk of malaria. Each year more than
200 million people get sick and over 400,000 die from malaria, most of them
young children in sub-Saharan Africa.
Over 1.5 billion people – one in five people alive today –
are at risk of neglected tropical diseases, a group of 20 diseases including elephantiasis,
sleeping sickness, leprosy, blinding trachoma and intestinal worms that
debilitate, disfigure, disable, and can kill, even though delivering treatments
can cost as little as 50 cents per person per year.
All these diseases thrive in areas of poverty and strike
hardest against the most vulnerable – women, particularly when they are
pregnant, children under five, and people living in remote, underserved communities.
Annually over 1 billion people have benefited from large scale
treatment for at least one NTD for the last three years while almost 600,000
lives are being saved from malaria and 100 million malaria cases are being
prevented compared to the year 2000 levels.
Half the world is malaria-free and another 49 countries are
within reach of elimination, including China, El Salvador, Malaysia, Cabo Verde
Since 2012, 31 countries have eliminated one of the ten NTDs
included in the London Declaration, eight of them in Africa. These include
Ghana which eliminated Guinea worm in 2015 and blinding trachoma in 2018.
Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, Chief Executive Officer of the RBM
Partnership to End Malaria, one of the two major disease coalitions supporting
the Summit, said:
“Commonwealth countries make up over half of all malaria
cases and deaths globally. The Kigali Summit will be a crucial moment for
leaders to take stock of the progress countries are making towards delivering
on the Commonwealth leaders’ commitment made in London two years ago to halve
malaria by 2023.
There are 650,000 lives dependent on the achievement of this
commitment and it is vital to the global elimination targets set for 2030. We
will be urging leaders from across the Commonwealth, and beyond, to accelerate
action to reach zero malaria.”
Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Director of Uniting to Combat
Neglecting to Combat Tropical Diseases, one of the two main coalitions
supporting the Summit said:
“2020 will be a monumental year to set the
global agenda and power the progress against neglected tropical diseases which
affect one in five people in the world. It starts in Kigali, just ahead of the
first ever World Day for Neglected Tropical Diseases on 30th January and will
lead us to the launch of the upcoming World Health Organization’s NTD 2030 road
map in June and a global response.