Africa: The Middle-Class Can Help End Neglected Tropical Diseases

At the 30th African Union Summit, Heads of State and Governments endorsed the new African Leaders Malaria Alliance scorecard which includes indicators on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This is important because for the first time, in one consolidated scorecard, it will be possible to track progress and investment opportunities for ending the suffering of children, women and men that are affected by NTDs.

NTDs are a group of preventable and treatable diseases that affect 1.5 billion people – 600 million of whom live in Africa. They are so widespread that half of Africa’s population is affected, from urban spaces to hard-to-reach parts of the continent. NTDs disfigure and disable people, keep our children out of school, and prevent many able-parents from working while caring for them. NTDs erode progress in health and economic investment. According to a study from Erasmus University, if the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) meets its 2020 goals, for the 5 most prevalent NTDs, in Africa, our economies will generate US$ 52 billion in productivity gains by 2030. We could also save over 100 million disability-adjusted life years. Thus, the consequences are far-reaching in Africa and the rest of the world.

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