Activities of the DNTDs

Bonn / Berlin - August 27, 2020. Experts from the DNTDs and the German WASH network discussed the importance of WASH (= water, sanitation, hygiene) for combating neglected tropical diseases at a virtual event for the Week for Water and Development (WW4D) organized by the German Society for International cooperation (GIZ). Dr. Anthony Solomon, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, pointed out the importance of building partnerships in the WASH community in order to implement the new WHO-NTD roadmap worldwide. Constanze Bönig from Veterinaires sans Frontières described the numerous possibilities with the ONE Health approach to combine WASH activities with the fight against neglected tropical diseases. Dr. Ngozi Ekeke, from DAHW Nigeria, emphasized the importance of clean water for wound healing of infectious diseases such as leprosy. Ghion Shumetie from CBM Ethiopia explained that he and his team often have to create interest in better sanitary facilities in rural areas, and teach simple techniques like hand washing or building and using latrines. Birgit Pickel, Head of department at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) underlined the importance of the holistic approach to combine human and animal health with environmental issues in order to reduce health risks. She regretted that due to COVID-19 the Kigali Declaration (update of the London Declaration on combating NTDs) had to be postponed and that the BMZ would like to support the efforts in the coming year.

Berlin, July 10, 2020. In a statement on the German EU-Council-Presidency and neglected tropical diseases, the DNTDs welcomes the fact that the German government wants to use the presidency to build on the priorities of its last G7 and G20 presidencies by prominently putting Global Health on the agenda. However, DNTDs also warns to  focus only  on infections and pandemic prevention caused by the COVID-19 experiences, and demands to help poor countries to build up resilient health systems.   . In particular, the so-called "One Health" concept should come more into focus. The DNTDs also calls for more attention in the EU for the implementation of the new WHO roadmap against neglected tropical diseases. There also are forecasts that climate change will increase neglected tropical diseases, which are transmitted by mosquitoes, flies and worms. They increasingly will spread in Southeast Europe.  The German Network is committed to ensuring that the fight against NTDs is reflected more strongly in the programs of German and European politics. The statement was sent to Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and to the EU President Dr. Ursula von der Leyen.

New Challenges and Opportunities?

Berlin / Bonn / London / Nairobi, June 24, 2020. The focus of the WEB TALK was on combating neglected tropical diseases in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panelists were Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf, Speaker for the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases, Director of the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Parasitology at the University Hospital Bonn and consultant in the subgroup Lymphatic Filariasis of the DTAG (diagnostics technical advisory groups) of the WHO, Dr. Georg Kippels, Member of the German Bundestag, Speaker of the Parliamentary Advisory Board on Combating Neglected Tropical Diseases and Strengthening Health Systems, Member of the Global Health Subcommittee, Prof. Dr. Martin Kollmann, specialist consultant at CBM for neglected tropical diseases, CBM Nairobi and Dr. Johannes Waltz, Head, Schistosomiasis Elimination Program and Global Schistosomiasis Alliance, Global Health, Group Corporate Affairs, Merck KGaA. The event was moderated by Ute Lange.

All the participants agreed that COVID-19 currently dominates the health policy agenda thus making it more difficult to combat neglected tropical diseases. On the other hand, through this pandemic health issues have gained more attention again. COVID-19 has shown again that diseases don’t know borders. Therefore, resilient health systems - all over the world - are crucial. Dr Johannes Waltz from Merck, explained that although the current situation presents Merck with a "tremendous challenge", his company will clearly stand by its engagement. They will adhere to the commitments to combat NTDs even beyond the London Declaration. Dr. Georg Kippels welcomed the fact that the Federal Government, in particular the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) heard the warning and made health a priority issue in development cooperation again. He emphasized that projects that contribute to a sustainable health system should be sustainable and therefore need long term financing. Prof. Martin Kollmann emphasized that the pandemics COVID and Ebola as well as the neglected tropical diseases have common roots that are based on inequality and weak health systems. In international global health, the NTDs should be used - even more than before - as an indicator to proof whether a health system can ensure comprehensive care. Prof. Dr. Achim Hörauf expressed his hope that joint efforts together with the relevant ministries will be made on the topics of digitization, regionalization, better diagnostics and hospital partnerships in order to meet future challenges such as urbanization and climate change.

Professor Helge Braun, Head of the Chancellery, long-time supporter in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)

Berlin - January 27, 2020. On the occasion of the first World Day against Neglected Tropical Diseases on January 30th, 2020, Prof. Dr Helge Braun, Head of the Chancellery was guest at the fireside chat of the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs). It’s rarely known that Professor Braun with his expertise as a medical doctor has been committed since long times to combating neglected tropical diseases. At the fireside chat, he reaffirmed his personal commitment. He stated that due to his experience in federal politics he knows about the limiting factors many countries have because of lacking functioning health systems. They are limiting factors for building up prosperity, security and peace policy. He hoped that the current outbreak of the Corona virus will raise awareness of the need for good global cooperation. Professor Braun further pointed out that a holistic approach to fighting diseases is important, but the goal should not be lost sight of. That is why there is a need for committed people who "persevere" and cited the Guinea worm eradication program as a good example.

He said that the German federal government supports the WHO in the fight against neglected tropical diseases and will continue to support it. When asked about the renewal of the so-called London Declaration in Kigali this year, he said: “The issue is more pressing today than it was at the time of the London Declaration. So why shouldn't anything happen?” Personally, he would be happy if more programs could be launched. Because, with a view to the sick, the Head of the Chancellery stated: "You can't let people live like this,"

It was among others Professor Braun who was involved in the fact that issues of global health, including neglected tropical diseases, have been on the international agenda of the annual summits of heads of state and government since 2015. Since then these diseases have received increased attention and found their way in the final declaration of the G7 summit in Elmau in 2015 and G20 summit in Hamburg 2017. Through his influence, the health and research ministers of the G7 and G20 countries have recognized the importance of fighting neglected tropical diseases and have spoken out in favor of increasing their commitment to measures against these diseases.

A fund to support product development partnerships for NTDs and other poverty-related diseases was set up in 2011 under his leadership at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Under his leadership, the Federal Chancellery hosted the 3rd Germany Forum in 2017 on the topic "What is important to people - global health and innovation". Neglected tropical diseases were one of the central topics.

At Professor Braun's suggestion, a comprehensive study of the research landscape in neglected tropical diseases in Germany was also carried out.

As Minister of State in the Federal Chancellery, Professor Braun initiated the round table “Neglected Tropical Diseases” in 2015, 2016, 2017 together with the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases (DNTDs). For the first time, representatives of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Foreign Office (AA) met with members of the Bundestag and the DNTDs to discuss the activities of the Federal government to report both in research funding and in the fight against NTDs on site in endemic countries. Today, ministerial representatives meet regularly to discuss global health issues.

Workshop at the World Health Summit 2019

Berlin – October 10, 2019. At the World Health Summit (WHS), the German Network against Neglected Tropical Diseases organized a workshop. The focus was on integrating the fight against neglected tropical diseases into the concept of universal health coverage (UHC). “Numerous endemic countries have now recognized the need to combat neglected tropical diseases and have drawn up national plans. It is now important to implement all activities under the aspect of universal health coverage in cooperation with the World Organization (WHO) in the respective countries,” emphasized Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, program director for neglected tropical diseases at the WHO. This aspiration, integration into national health systems, will be increasingly reflected in the new WHO roadmap to combat NTDs, which will be adopted by the WHO next year, Malecela said.

Yao Sodahlon, director of the Mectizan Donation Program, emphasized the private sector's commitment to the fight against NTDs. "Great efforts are being made to ensure that the medication reaches the sick people. If one speaks of the" last mile "that needs to be taken to reach the people, this is only partially true. These people even live beyond the last mile," said Sodahlon.

Louise Kelly-Hope, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation Operational Research of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine said that new digital solutions to monitor neglected tropical diseases can also strengthen health systems in endemic countries.

Sahayarani Antony, Head of Social Affairs at DAHW and Kirsty Thompson, Strategic Advisor on Disability Inclusion from CBM Australia, described how people with disabilities caused by NTDs can connect with activists who stand up for their rights. Disabilities caused by NTDs often are not innate but arise in the course of life caused or exacerbated by the poor living conditions of people, e.g. due to a lack of health systems, nutrition, limited access to clean water and poor hygiene. In order to be able to help the people affected, the fight against NTDs should be seen as a cross-cutting issue.