‘One in six already afflicted with disease’
KUWAIT CITY, Oct 23, (KUNA): Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) Abdulwahab Al Bader has stressed Kuwait’s support to developing countries to achieve development. Founding KFAED half a century ago embodied Kuwait’s vision of the significance of international cooperation to back these countries, Al-Bader told the opening of the first meeting of a program on the elimination of marginalized tropical diseases in Africa.
Controlling tropical diseases is a key factor in the fight against poverty and all health problems, Al Bader said, adding that Kuwait’s international partnership with several development institutions specialized in health and fighting diseases and epidemics is a model example to follow.
For his part, Former Tanzanian president Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said the program, held in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), aims to eradicate the marginalized tropical diseases and alleviate the suffering of millions of people in Africa.
One in every three people is exposed to these diseases, and one in six has already been afflicted with one of them, Kikwete added.
According to Kikwete, more than 1.56 billion people with limited income worldwide are suffering from the diseases, 40 percent of them on the continent. Mostly the marginalized diseases and epidemics hit the poor, so controlling them will have such positive effect on poverty and hunger, and can also help boost education and economic growth, he noted. He also emphasized the prime importance of innovative partnerships and cooperation among states as well as institutions to save people’s lives, referring to the WHO’s 2020 road map set in London in 2012, for eradicating 10 of the marginalized tropical disease.
He also referred in this context to the WHO’s Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN). It is a five-year project which launched by the WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) in May 2016 to provide national NTD program with technical and fundraising support to help them accelerate the control and elimination of the five Neglected Tropical Diseases amenable to Preventive Chemotherapy (PC-NTDs) with the greatest burden on the continent. These are Onchocerciasis, Lymphatic Filariasis, Schistosomiasis (river blindness), Soil Transmitted Helminthes and Trachoma, which collectively affect hundreds of millions of people.
For her part, WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti, said that KFAED was among the first institutions that joined the programs to fight the marginalized tropical diseases since launching the African scheme to control and eliminate river blindness. She added that controlling these diseases require an international commitment, a technical orientation, financial resources and a political leadership.