Kigali Summit 2021 - A milestone in the fight against neglected tropical diseases

Discussion on Malaria and NTDs in the run-up to the Kigali Summit

++ Government of Rhineland-Palatinate for more awareness in the fight against neglected tropical diseases


Berlin/Mainz - 29.04.2021. At a joint event organised by the Rwanda Department of the Rhineland-Palatinate State Government and the DNTDs on the occasion of the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs in June 2021, NTDs were the focus of discussions.

Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, speaker of the DNTDs, Director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the University Hospital Bonn (IMMIP) explained some disease patterns of NTDs and placed the Kigali Summit in the context of the numerous activities in the field of global health policy.

Uta Elisabeth Düll, a doctor in Rwanda, spoke about the great efforts of the Rwandan government to maintain the NTD programmes despite the COVID-19 pandemic. She reported on the well-coordinated health infrastructure at different levels - through community health workers, health posts and district hospitals. A health insurance scheme for everyone, she said, provides the population with good health care.

"The state government of Rhineland-Palatinate has been supporting a country partnership with Rwanda for more than 40 years, which focuses on schools, hospitals and water supply," said Carola Stein, Head of Division for the partner country Rwanda in the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of the Interior and Sport. The partnership approach is important. The exchange is not a one-way street. Rwanda is ahead of Germany in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, for example, and one can learn from this.

Johannes Waltz, Head of Merck Schistosomiasis Elimination, Program and Global Schistosomiasis Alliance (GSA) affirmed Rwanda's pioneering role in the fight against neglected tropical diseases, especially schistosomiasis. The prospect of elimination is realistic, he said. Therefore, Merck has agreed on additional drug donations with the Rwandan government in order to get closer to the goal. However, integrated use is important, i.e. education, prevention, WASH and hygiene measures must be combined with the use of medicines.

Burkard Kömm, Managing Director, DAHW Deutsche Lepra- und Tuberkulosehilfe e.V. (German Leprosy and Tuberculosis Relief Association), described the trauma suffered by many women and men who have schistosomiasis, leprosy or elephantiasis. Often superstition and ignorance lead to the exclusion of the sick and traditional healers are then the first port of call. DAHW therefore has programmes with social workers to find these people and to convince them to accept help from modern medicine.

Ottmar von Holtz, Member of the German Parliament, member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council against Neglected Tropical Diseases and for the Strengthening of Health Systems underlined the possibilities of the parliamentarians to raise the issue of neglected tropical diseases in different committees such as the Subcommittee on Health in German parliament. He promised they will continue to put pressure on the federal government to further promote the fight against NTDs.

There were also numerous questions from the audience. Among other things, the announced cuts by the British government were intensively discussed. It is planned to reduce public development funding from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent. The effects would also be dramatic for programmes of neglected tropical diseases, because millions of donated medicines would no longer reach the sick people on the ground.

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