January 30, 2021, will mark the second annual World Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Day. Thailand will join the global community in a show of solidarity for addressing the gaps in NTDs and freeing the next generation from diseases of poverty. Affecting over 1.7 billion globally, NTDs are responsible for thousands of preventable deaths each year and cause impairments that perpetuate the cycle of poverty-keeping millions.
Siriraj (Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University) in partnership with the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carter Center, The END Fund, Uniting to Combat NTDs, DNDi and more than 300 government, health, community, and business leaders, will use this occasion to launch a meaningful series of activities in support of eliminating NTDs from the planet.
Prof. Dr. Prasit Watanapa, Dean of Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital said “We have chosen Navamindrabopitr 84th Anniversary Building, Siriraj Hospital, to be illuminated as it symbolizes the royal wish of the late King Rama IX (King Bhumibol) and his devotion towards taking care of underprivileged patients in Thai society. This building was one of the last projects of the late King Bhumibol, whose wish was to devote this building to marginalised and neglected patients.”
Thailand has its own success story in eliminating some NTDs such as filariasis and leprosy. The Thai royal family has continued to make important contributions to the elimination and control of NTDs in Thailand. Prince Mahidol Songkla, the King’s grandfather, fought hard against battling tuberculosis by instilling education, awareness and finding treatment options to help with the disease burden. The late King Bhumibol supported many national activities to eliminate leprosy and filariasis and helped to set-up the BCG vaccine production plant in Thailand. He also strongly encouraged program to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, preemptively preventing dengue fever from spreading.
It is estimated that NTDs affect 24% of the world’s population. We hope that our participation from Thailand, in solidarity, will help attract more attention to the plight and struggle of the communities living with the daily threat of NTDs. Untreated NTDs lead to cognitive impairment and developmental disabilities and severe forms can cause malnutrition and death.
At a time when our world has more empathy for the threat of infectious diseases, it is our collective responsibility to end diseases that are entirely preventable. Global attention has been focused on #COVID19, but the crisis has also diverted resources and attention away from other critical global health issues like NTDs, further intensifying the health risks to already vulnerable populations.
In conjunction with this campaign, the World Health Organisation (WHO) also launched the NTD roadmap on 28th January 2021. The formal launch of “Ending the neglect to attain the Sustainable Development Goals: A road map for neglected tropical diseases 2021-2030″ will be launched on January 28, 2021 by Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO. For more information, click here: http://bit.ly/NTD-roadmap
There is an opportunity to apply the unprecedented collaboration around #COVID19 to also address NTDs. This includes cross-sectors, cross-industry partnerships, building strong political will, and generating resources necessary to reach the last mile in ending the neglect to create a world where the 1 in 5 people worldwide who are currently at risk can lead healthy and impactful lives.