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Dubai Cares joins a global alliance to help tackle NTDs.

Targeting 10 diseases, the partnership has ramped up efforts over the past two years to reach the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s goals to control or eliminate these diseases by the end of the decade.

Dubai Cares on Thursday entered a global partnership to action catalytic interventions and mobilise resources towards combatting 10 Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in endemic countries around the world.

During an event in Paris titled "Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Conversation on Progress", Dubai Cares joined a partnership of international institutions that seek to mobilise the fight against NTDs.

Dubai Cares highlighted that one of its strategic approaches to achieve student enrolment and learning outcomes is an integrated school health and nutrition approach that is made up of NTD control, school feeding, WASH (Water Sanitation & Hygiene) in schools interventions.

Speaking on the significance of joining the partnership, Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares, said: "We are honoured to be part of this global partnership that is dedicated to combatting a growing health concern and a leading cause of absenteeism amongst students in the developing world. As an organization that seeks to eradicate poverty through education, we work towards eliminating the obstacles that prevent children from accessing quality education. By integrating de-worming components into our School Health and Nutrition programs, we not only reduce worm loads, but also prevent reinfection and improve student enrolment and learning outcomes, helping us in our mission to provide children with access to quality primary education."

As part of the global alliance, Tariq Al Gurg participated in a panel discussion in Paris, which addressed the progress and challenges in the effort to control and eliminate 10 NTDs by 2020. The panel also discussed how the unique alliance has driven progress forward since the launch of the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases in 2012.

The 2012 London Declaration created a global alliance led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with 13 leading pharmaceutical companies, global health organisations, private foundations and donors, and governments pledging support to reduce the global burden of NTDs. Targeting 10 diseases, the partnership has ramped up efforts over the past two years to reach the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s goals to control or eliminate these diseases by the end of the decade.

NTDs thrive where access to clean water and sanitation are limited and people live without protection from disease vectors. This has resulted in NTDs affecting more than one billion people in the world's poorest and most vulnerable regions. Tackling NTDs is a fundamental way to reduce poverty.

Studies have shown that reducing these diseases improves intellectual development in children, increases school enrolment, and leads to increased economic productivity in the adult workforce.

The partnership will focus on eliminating river blindness, Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, leprosy, Chagas disease, visceral leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness, all of which contribute to rising rates of absenteeism amongst primary school age children in endemic countries.

Listing the effects of NTDs on children, Al Gurg stressed the urgency of the situation: "NTDs have a dreadful effect on children as it cripples their intellectual capabilities, hence limiting their ability to develop to their potential. However, due to the tremendous strides we have taken in medicine and technology, we currently have the opportunity to implement a powerful strike against NTDs. This global alliance of experts, governments as well as private and public sector organizations will help tackle the problem of NTDs in the most efficient and swift manner possible."

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Apr 4, 2014
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