After stopping in Gorée Island, Senegal, President Obama remarked, “I’m a firm believer that humanity is fundamentally good, but it’s only good when good people stand up for what’s right.”
While President Obama was referencing the need to strengthen and uphold human rights protections, his comment certainly applies to the urgent obligation to control and eliminate NTDs in Africa. With over 90% of the NTD burden occurring in this continent, Africans are deeply suffering from the debilitating health, social, and economic impact of these diseases – and remain stuck in extreme poverty as a result.
As the President continues his tour encouraging African nations to foster economic growth and empower youth, we urge him to acknowledge the essential link between treating NTDs and advancing prosperity. Here’s our “wish list” of points we’d like President Obama to address:
- The U.S. is committed to reducing the impact of NTDs in Africa by supporting integrated treatment programs and offering technical assistance. USAID has already delivered hundreds of millions of treatments and will continue to invest in reducing the impact of the seven most common NTDs.
- Adding deworming programs to all childhood nutrition efforts will strengthen food security and nutrition interventions. Removing worms will ensure that kids retain the nutrients required for proper physical and cognitive development.
- As a leader on the continent, South Africa can play a major role in elevating NTDs as a priority health issue for the African region. Treating NTDs supports peaceful, healthy, and equal outcomes for society.
Tackling NTDs offers a concrete way to alleviate poverty, enhance food security and improve the lives of millions of Africans. Here’s to hoping that President Obama takes advantage of this monumental trip by giving these horrific diseases the attention they deserve.