Despite the government shutdown earlier this month, Global Network’s Managing Director Neeraj Mistry, Sabin Foundation Europe Board member and chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and NTDs Jeremy Lefroy MP, and Nigerien National Assembly Member Ibrahim Souleymane MP were invited to meet with Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) during their recent visit to the United States. Sen. Wicker, who currently co-chairs the Senate Working Group on Malaria and NTDs (Working Group) with Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE), has a long-track record of supporting global health issues and other foreign assistance programs. Support from lawmakers like Sen. Wicker remains essential to ensuring that the U.S. Congress continues to fund and raise awareness for important global health initiatives like USAID’s NTD Program.
At the meeting, Mr. Lefroy and Sen. Wicker discussed their mutual work in fighting malaria and NTDs through legislative channels, and how they could possibly encourage their counterparts in parliamentary bodies around the world to advance the NTD cause. Mr. Souleymane was grateful to provide an African perspective to the group and affirm the positive work underway in support of the Government of Niger’s health agenda. In addition, Neeraj provided a succinct overview of the global NTD landscape, the role of the Global Network, and the on-going success of USAID’s NTD Program, which now operates in 24 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Mr. Lefroy was particularly interested in Sen. Wicker’s role as co-chair of the Working Group as he champions the U.S. government’s fight against malaria and NTDs on Capitol Hill. The two also discussed the broader development needs in Africa and the Senator’s recent trip to Tanzania, where Mr. Lefroy lived previously with his family while he worked in the coffee industry. Tanzania currently receives USAID funding for a comprehensive NTD program, implemented by RTI International, IMA Worldhealth, and the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control.
We hope that these great advocates for NTDs will be able to rally the support of more parliamentarians and lawmakers―within their own bodies and around the world―to support global efforts to control and eliminate the most common NTDs by 2020.