By Amin Kef Sesay
During the 3rd World Neglected Tropical Diseases Celebrations held at the Miatta Conference Car Park in Freetown on the 31st January 2022, the United States Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer, made a very salient contribution.
Expressing pleasure to be part of commemorating the 3rd World Neglected Tropical Diseases (or NTDs) day he disclosed how the United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is proud to join the Government of Sierra Leone in celebrating their work towards eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases under the theme “Advancing Health Equity to End the Neglect of Poverty-Related Diseases”.
According to him, the celebration marks yet another milestone in the collective resolve between Sierra Leone and the United States to end five neglected diseases adding that at the global level, the United States has recently launched a new strategy in partnership with the World Health Organization.
The US Ambassador further stated that in order to help people right here in Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health’s NTD Program, with support from the U.S. Embassy and the Helen Keller International organization, is currently adapting a five-year Sustainability Plan to make diagnosis and treatment a part of routine health care, making it more accessible to the people who need it most.
The plan, he said, when completed will make sure women and children who are most affected have equal access to care and treatment maintaining that with a goal of eliminating these neglected tropical diseases, campaigns to treat women and children are a cost-effective way of preventing illness and reducing transmission.
“The implementation of this global effort in Sierra Leone is evidence of the partnerships we share with the people and Government of Sierra Leone to improve health and well-being,” Ambassador David Reimer intimated adding that worldwide, the United States has worked with Governments and pharmaceutical companies to provide 2.8 billion treatments to 1.4 billion people, with donated drugs valued at more than $26 billion.
He stated that an estimated 5.7 million Sierra Leoneans, particularly women and children, risk illness and lifelong disabilities from those diseases.
Based on his statement, together with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, they have provided over 125 million treatments and leveraged over $267 million in donated medicines for Sierra Leone.
“In Sierra Leone, our collective focus has been to combat four of the most common neglected tropical diseases, including bigfoot, river blindness and intestinal worms,” he disclosed asserting that because of the close collaboration, 10 districts no longer need mass treatment for big foot which puts Sierra Leone on track to eliminate the disease as a public health problem by 2024.
He underscored that the results were possible because of the strong partnerships between the Governments of the United States and Sierra Leone as well as Civil Society.
The US Ambassador stated that as countries face the challenge of combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States remains committed to global and national efforts to eliminate neglected tropical diseases.
Quoting Helen Keller, the great author, educator, and advocate, the US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, David Reimer stated : “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much more.”
He ended calling on all stakeholders to work together as partners in order to eliminate neglected tropical diseases in Sierra Leone.
Courtesy of 2 February 2022