APPMG at the NNN 2019- Report

Neglected Tropical Diseases NGO Network’s (NNN) 10th Annual Meeting and the 11th Annual European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health

16-20th September 2019, Liverpool, UK

Lord Sandy Trees, Vice-Chair of the APPMG and Nicole Vecchio, Coordinator of the APPMG

The APPMG attended the Neglected Tropical Diseases NGO Network’s (NNN) 10th Annual Meeting in Liverpool, hosted by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The 10th Annual Meeting was opened by the Chair of the NNN, Prof. Gail Davey and the Dean of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. We also heard from Mr. Rajni Kant Singh, a person affected by lymphatic filariasis. The keynote address was delivered by Dr Mwele Malecela, the Director of the Department for the Control of NTDs at the World Health Organisation. Dr Malecela opened the conference by acknowledging the contributions of all partners gathered and the theme of the conference “Our Vision Beyond 2020: Many Partners, One Voice”.

Following this, the Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Baroness Sugg, spoke about the amazing progress against NTDs that has been achieved since the signing of the London Declaration in 2012. The effective partnership that commenced between NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, endemic country governments and their health workers, donor governments such as the UK, and academia has affected millions of people, with 1 billion people treated for at least 1 NTD in 2016 this has enabled people to go to work and children to go to school thus building national prosperity and showing a possible future beyond aid. The UK government has been a leading donor and partner in the global fight against NTDs and at the NNN announced a new DFID NTDs programme that will protect 200 million people from suffering preventable diseases. This programme is part of the £360 million that was committed to be spent on NTDs at the 2017 NTD Summit. The programme will be delivered by Sightsavers, Crown Agents and other partners and it is designed with a strong underlying health system strengthening approach that will also help on the path towards Universal Health Coverage. (Press Release from DFID here.)

As this was the 10th Anniversary of the NNN, the past Chairs of the NNN got together in the closing panel to reflect on progress in this community over a decade. What began as a few colleagues meeting to discuss cross-cutting issues and collaboration within the Onchocerciasis, LF and Trachoma communities and has since grown to encompass all 10 of the London Declaration NTDs as well as several cross-cutting issue working groups including: WASH, Conflict and humanitarian emergencies, ONE Health, and as of this year, Sustainability,

The forum has created a supportive and collaborative space for NGOs  and a variety of other partners to work together to help each other reach the WHO Roadmap goals. The NNN also was key to supporting the launch of the recent WHO and NNN WASH and NTDs toolkit and the consultation of NGO partners for the WHO post-2020 Roadmap.

Underlying most discussions and presentations at the conference this year is the WHO post-2020 Roadmap on NTDs, which has been developed following a thorough global consultation with experts and practitioners throughout the NTD community.

The Shadow Secretary of State for International Development- also the MP for Liverpool Walden- Dan Carden MP, also spoke passionately at the closing plenary about the importance of universal access to healthcare to ensure the most vulnerable do not die from preventable and treatable causes such as NTDs and can lead a dignified and healthy life. He emphasised that in order to reach the SDG goals, specifically SDG 3 which aims to end these diseases by 2030, we must build quality health services that are available to everyone.

Alongside the NNN conference was the 11th Annual European Congress on Tropical Medicine and International Health in which accomplished veterinary surgeon, Lord Sandy Trees, the Vice- Chair of the APPG on Malaria and NTDs led sessions on the ONE HEALTH approach to NTDs. ONE HEALTH looks at the intersection between human and veterinary public health (VPH) sectors working more closely together in the fight against NTDs. With almost 50% of all diseases defined by the WHO as NTDs having a zoonotic component to their lifecycle, a One Health approach is crucial to achieving the WHO NTD Road map targets.

(Lord Trees speaking at the ECTMIH, photo credit @ RSTMH)?

The ECTMIH in Liverpool was a multi-facetted meeting which embraced the NNN 10th Annual meeting as well as the 11th European Congress, and as “hosts”, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s Annual Meeting with a major theme of “One Health”.

 Across the five days, over 1,200 delegates from 94 countries enjoyed keynote presentations, research findings and panel discussions. Major challenges such as Antimicrobial Resistance featured in a plenary from the WHO’s Chief Scientist, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, and Professor Peter Hotez gave an illuminating and inciteful talk about vaccines, fake news and the anti-vax movement , against which he has been such a great champion in the USA.

NTDs featured strongly throughout and snakebite was the subject of a panel event which considered current progress and the research opportunities presented by the substantial and much overdue funding now going towards this major NTD. Many NTDs are exemplars of One Health and this theme culminated in a so-called “super-panel” discussion including , amongst others , Dr John Amuasi, Executive Director, African Research Network for NTDs and Co-Chair of the Lancet One Health Commission, Dr Graeme Cooke, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, UK,  Professor David Lalloo, Director, LSTM and Professor the Lord Trees, Vice-Chair, APPG Malaria and NTDs , superbly chaired and facilitated by Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, UK.

(Panel at ECTMIH from L-R: Prof. Chris Whitty, Dr John Amuasi, Dr Morven Roberts, Dr Graeme Cooke, Prof. Alister Ager, Prof. David Lalloo, Prof. the Lord Trees, photo credit @ RSTMH)?