Berlin, 24.3.2021 - Malaria and neglected tropical diseases can be tackled together, the participants of the webinar “Integrated and cross-sectoral interventions: Example Neglected Tropical Diseases and Malaria” which took place within the Actionweek of the Global Health Hub Germany. International experts had met in the run-up to the Kigali Summit on Malaria and NTDs, scheduled for June, to find out how both diseases - NTDs and malaria - can be tackled together and how this can lead to a paradigm shift in health policy.
Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director, Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, World Health Organization (WHO) advocated for reformulating the global health architecture and breaking down vertical health financing and allowing endemic countries more flexibility in spending as part of their greater responsibility for programmes. Dr Aimable Mbituyumuremyi, Division Manager for Malaria and NTD Programmes, Government of Rwanda explained that in his country both diseases, which represent the greatest burden of disease, were already being worked on together in one division in the Ministry of Health. He described the coordination and collaboration of the different levels of work at government, district and community levels. Richard Allan, CEO, MENTOR Initiative explained that poor populations could often benefit from joint control structures and activities of malaria and NTDs. He said that community health workers, who should be further trained and equipped with innovative digital tools, can make better diagnoses and share important data, are crucial in the fight against both diseases. Dr Daniel Eibach, Senior Health Officer One Health, from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) underlined Germany's efforts to integrate the One Health approach in the fight against NTDs and made the case that despite all the necessary interventions in the COVID-19 epidemic, neither malaria nor NTDs should be forgotten. Dr Lutz Hegemann, Group Head, Corporate Affairs and Global Health, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research pointed out that pharmaceutical companies continue to support partnerships to fight both diseases. A request from the audience underlined the importance of incorporating local knowledge and decolonising innovation. The event was moderated by Dr. Dr. Carsten Köhler, Director of the Competence Centre Tropical Medicine Baden-Württemberg, Institute for Tropical Medicine, Travel Medicine and Human Parasitology, University Hospital, Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen and Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, Director of the Institute for Med. Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the University Hospital Bonn, speaker of the DNTD and coordinator of the GHHG working group.