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We Can End Neglected Tropical Diseases

Diseases like leprosy, river blindness, and trachoma are rare in much of the world, but they remain rampant in many of the poorest countries, even though they are largely preventable. A new initiative aims to raise awareness about diseases that affect more than 1.7 billion people – and motivate a global push to eradicate them.

DODOMA – Earlier this year, world leaders began the process of committing to and endorsing the Kigali Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases. The declaration is a high-level statement meant to mobilize the necessary political will, community commitment, financial resources, and individual action to end NTDs. The Kigali Declaration will be launched at the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs, held on the sidelines of this month’s 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda.

NTDs are a group of 20 diseases that include leprosy, elephantiasis, rabies, river blindness, and trachoma, and more than 1.7 billion people worldwide – 35% of whom live in Africa – suffer from them. But although these diseases debilitate, disfigure, and can kill, they receive far less attention than other diseases, in part because they primarily affect the world’s poorest people.

Tanzania is among the countries hardest hit by NTDs. Nearly half of the country’s population – more than 29 million people – requires treatment for at least one NTD, including 19 million children at risk of intestinal worms.

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