Uniting to improve health of the world’s poorest

Dozens of organisations signed the Abu Dhabi Declaration on 17 September which highlights their commitment to work together to reduce Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) and support those affected by them.

It calls for the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to include a global indicator for NTDs to ensure the poorest are not left behind.

More than 1.4 billion of the world’s poorest suffer Neglected Tropical Diseases, including 500 million children.

The NTDs  such as leprosy, lymphatic filariasis and trachoma, compound poverty by causing blindness, disfigurement and disability by preventing men and women from going to work and children from attending school.

Over 200 representatives of the Non-Governmental Development Organisations Network on NTDs working to prevent, treat and manage consequences of diseases that affect the poorest of the poor met in Abu Dhabi to show their support for the inclusion of NTDs in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global development targets from 2015-2030 due to be signed by the UN later this month.

Global pharmaceutical companies that donate medicines were also present as were representatives from the World Health Organisation (WHO). The new WHO strategy for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and NTDs was shared, highlighting the importance of water and sanitation in preventing these diseases.

Head of Programmes, Sian Arulanantham, who signed the declaration on behalf of The Leprosy Mission England and Wales said: “Neglected tropical diseases were not included in the Millennium Development Goals meaning the poorest of the poor were often left out of development programmes, remaining in poor health and abject poverty.  

“The Abu Dhabi Declaration is a statement of solidarity, highlighting that if the new SDGs are to be truly inclusive and leave no-one behind, they must include the prevention and treatment of NTDs, and intervention to support people affected by them. 

“What gets measured gets done! The SDGs' Goal 3 on Health must include an indicator for NTDs to ensure development interventions don’t just reach the easy to reach, those just below the poverty line, but reach the most marginalised.

“Targets related to Water and Sanitation and Universal Health Coverage also need to ensure NTDs are included if we have any real hope in improving global health and quality of life of 1.4 billion of the world’s poor.”

The full text of the declaration can be found here.