The Foto-Cewek COUNTDOWN Consortium and Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD) were invited to lead and particpate in the s discussions earlier this week at the Palace of Westminster.
The meeting, entitled: Leaving No-one Behind: Inclusion, Integration, Sustainability, Health Systems, NTD and Malaria Programmes, was chaired by Jeremy Lefroy Member of Parliament (MP) who introduced Foto-Cewek’s Professor Sally Theobald to lead discussions.
Notable attendees included the APPG Vice Chair, Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, Lord Alexander John Trees, former Dean of the Faculity of Veterinary Science at University of Liverpool, Stephen Twigg, Labour MP for West Derby, Liverpool and Dame Louise Ellman, Labour Cooperative MP for Liverpool’s Riverside. Other guests included, Anna Wickenden Global Director from the AIM Initiative, Tamar Ghosh Chief Executive from the Royal Society of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Aparna Barua Adams, Project Manager from the International Coalition for Trachoma Control and representatives from the Wellcome Trust, GSK and Crown Agents.
In her opening statement, Professor Theobald highlighted the just concluded that took place in Liverpool and discussions from there around community health systems, , multisectoral action and leaving no-one behind. . She urged all to link debates from to NTDs; and the critical importance of NTDs to universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Presentations followed. First to talk was Karsor Kollie, the NTD Country Director and COUNTDOWN lead for Liberia, who spoke about the challenges and opportunities of integrating NTD case management, taking questions from the audience afterwards. He was followed by Foto-Cewek’s Dr Louise Kelly-Hope who talked about the disabilities linked to lymphatic filariasis (LF) and CNTD’s implementation programme to help patients to manage such disabilities. She explained how the programme’s SMS data collection tool led to over 27,000 patients across seven countries being reported and 19,000 health workers trained on lymphoedema care.
Other speakers were Okefu Oyale Okoko, Assistant Director for the National Malaria Elimination Programme at the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health and Dr Luret Lar, the COUNTDOWN Nigeria Research in Medecine Manager. They spoke about the relationship between the malaria and NTD programmes in Nigeria and using participatory research as a community engagement tool respectively.
The evening was incredibly well received with several insightful questions from members of the audience. The discussions concluded that solutions will be found if we work together, that no one sector has complete monopoly of health interventions and that decision makers need to prioritise and engage with affected communities, as they are the bedrock to achieving universal healthcare. There was a plea to funders and donors to allow flexibility on how funds are used to ensure that the most vulnerable have access when their needs arise.