Call to UK Parliament ‘to end the ever-deepening neglect’

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) needlessly affect one in five people globally today. They cause devastation to people living in the poorest and most marginalised communities on earth.

To tackle this extreme injustice, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases and the UK Coalition Against Neglected Tropical Diseases are hosting an event for parliamentarians, calling for an end to these diseases that need not exist in the 21st century.

‘Ending the Neglect’ takes place in the Attlee Room at the House of Lords from 3.30pm to 5pm on Wednesday 8 June and will be chaired by Lord Alexander Trees.

The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated to the world that diseases know no borders. Not only do they pose a major threat to global health but also economies, livelihoods and security. The UK has a strong track record of tackling NTDs through investment in research, innovation, business partnerships and healthcare and this has made a difference to millions of people today.

However this reputation, and the wellbeing of the world’s poorest people, are at risk without ongoing leadership, investment and engagement by the UK Government.

Diseases of poverty disproportionately affect women and girls who are more vulnerable to the social exclusion as a result of NTDs. Also, the burden of care for other family members often falls on women and girls, causing them to drop out of employment or education.

Asma, pictured above, is 49 and has battled with the effects of leprosy for more than half of her life. She is cared for at DBLM Hospital in Nilpharmari, Bangladesh where The Leprosy Mission provides services. “The hospital takes care of me but it doesn’t heal everything,” she told us. Women like Asma know too well that the effects of leprosy aren't just physical, and that the stigma of the disease and its impact on mental health can be lifelong.

‘Ending the Neglect’ will raise the profile of NTDs following the Government’s publication of its International Development Strategy last month. It will emphasise the cost benefits of tackling NTDs ahead of any additional overseas aid spending decisions.

Chief Executive of The Leprosy Mission, Peter Waddup, is at the House of Lords tomorrow [Wednesday] with Rachna Kumari who will tell MPs and peers about her personal battle with leprosy, one of the 20 Neglected Tropical Diseases as identified by the World Health Organisation.

Peter said; “We need to end the ever-deepening neglect by raising awareness that spending on global health is a vital investment, saving and transforming millions of lives.

“The central pledge of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda is ‘Leave No One Behind’. Yet the UK’s response to the Covid pandemic has centred on domestic needs at the expense of those left furthest behind globally.

“Analysis of the cuts to the overseas aid budget shows that people living in the world’s poorest communities have been hardest hit. Particularly women, girls and people with disabilities. So many of these communities have also had to contend with conflict and climate change issues.

“The world is becoming increasingly more divided and we feel the responsibility to get MPs onboard to make sure no one really is left behind.”