Pro-poor Agenda Gets Boost against Neglected Tropical Diseases

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Dr. Kateh responds to Dr. Gasasira yesterday after the donation.

WHO support to benefit 2.5 million Liberians

Liberia’s support in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) received commendation from Dr. Alex Gasasira, the World Health Organization’s representative in Liberia, during a presentation of medical supplies to the Ministry of Health yesterday in Monrovia.

Presenting the items to Dr. Francis Kateh, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Liberia, and Karsor K. Kollie, director of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Dr. Gasasira commended health officials for the successful implementation of programs against NTDs.

He said the WHO is interested in supporting the Liberian government’s pro-poor governance agenda and expressed the hope that the donated items can take care of 2.5 million Liberians, particularly those in poor rural communities.

Dr. Gasasira said the items, among others, can treat leprosy, river blindness (Onchocerciasis) and Buruli ulcer, and hoped that the use of the medicines can achieve comparable success as in the past.

On behalf of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Kateh expressed Liberia’s appreciation for the WHO’s support, including building Liberians’ capacity in the health sector.

“This donation has come at a good time,” Dr. Kateh said, and noted that during his recent confirmation hearing at the Senate, he drew attention to the need for the country to tackle NTDs.

(L-R) Dr. Kateh, Dr. Gasasira, and Olivia Dennis, communications officer

He added: “It is time for us to educate our people about neglected tropical diseases and how they can protect themselves against them.”

He said NTDs affect poor Liberians, “and these are those who live in rural communities and those who pay little attention to their poor and unhealthy environments.”

“This donation will help us to get to children who are victims of neglected tropical diseases, and it is the beginning,” he said. “It is also important that we begin to collect data for the WHO that could be sent to pharmaceutical companies regarding their support to the fight against the neglected tropical disease.”

NTDs are a group of communicable diseases that affect more than one billion people globally in 149 countries. The NTDs that are of great public health importance in Liberia, according to WHO, are leprosy, river blindness (Onchocerciasis) and Buruli ulcer.

The NTDs program is closely aligned with the Universal Health Coverage agenda and its key drivers include reaching those who need them most, particularly communities living in remote areas beyond the reach of the most robust healthcare system.

With regards to NTDs, inclusiveness and reaching poor rural communities is consistent with the pro-poor agenda as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

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