Dubai Cares today entered a global partnership to action catalytic interventions and mobilize resources towards combatting 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in endemic countries around the world. During an event in Paris titled “Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Conversation on Progress”, Dubai Cares joined a partnership of international institutions that seek to mobilize the fight against NTDs. Dubai Cares highlighted that one of its strategic approaches to achieve student enrollment and learning outcomes is an integrated school health and nutrition approach that is made up of NTD control, school feeding, WASH (Water Sanitation & Hygiene) in schools interventions.
Speaking on the significance of joining the partnership, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “We are honored to be part of this global partnership that is dedicated to combatting a growing health concern and a leading cause of absenteeism amongst students in the developing world. As an organization that seeks to eradicate poverty through education, we work towards eliminating the obstacles that prevent children from accessing quality education. By integrating de-worming components into our School Health and Nutrition programs, we not only reduce worm loads, but also prevent reinfection and improve student enrollment and learning outcomes, helping us in our mission to provide children with access to quality primary education.”
As part of the global alliance, Tariq Al Gurg participated in a panel discussion in Paris, which addressed the progress and challenges in the effort to control and eliminate 10 NTDs by 2020. The panel also discussed how the unique alliance has driven progress forward since the launch of the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases in 2012.
The 2012 London Declaration created a global alliance led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with 13 leading pharmaceutical companies, global health organizations, private foundations and donors, and governments pledging support to reduce the global burden of NTDs. Targeting 10 diseases, the partnership has ramped up efforts over the past two years to reach the World Health Organization (WHO)’s goals to control or eliminate these diseases by the end of the decade.
NTDs thrive where access to clean water and sanitation are limited and people live without protection from disease vectors. This has resulted in NTDs affecting more than one billion people in the world’s poorest and most vulnerable regions. Tackling NTDs is a fundamental way to reduce poverty. Studies have shown that reducing these diseases improves intellectual development in children, increases school enrollment, and leads to increased economic productivity in the adult workforce. The partnership will focus on eliminating river blindness, Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helmiths, leprosy, Chagas disease, visceral leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness, all of which contribute to rising rates of absenteeism amongst primary school age children in endemic countries.
Listing the effects of NTDs on children, Al Gurg stressed the urgency of the situation: “NTDs have a dreadful effect on children as it cripples their intellectual capabilities, hence limiting their ability to develop to their potential. However, due to the tremendous strides we have taken in medicine and technology, we currently have the opportunity to implement a powerful strike against NTDs. This global alliance of experts, governments as well as private and public sector organizations will help tackle the problem of NTDs in the most efficient and swift manner possible.”
As part of the partnership, Dubai Cares joins development agencies such as the World Health Organization, World Bank, Global Partnership for Educaton, the Department for International Development, and private foundations including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as well as pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson and Gilead Sciences. The partnership also includes the governments of several endemic countries as well as research organizations like Harvard Global Health, Institut Pasteur, University of California Los Angeles Fielding School of Public Health, Imperial College, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Yale School of Public Health. The partnership also includes Institute Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, Global Health Strategies, Christoffel Blind Mission (CBM), LEPRA Health in Action, Evidence Action, Mission to Save the Helpless, The Carter Center, Organisation pour la Prévention de la Cécité, RTI International, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, The END Fund and The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.