Ministry of Health in collaboration with International Trachoma Initiative organized the Eastern and Southern Africa NTD/Trachoma Cross Boarder Partnership conference with the theme of ‹‹Innovations to accelerate progress towards Elimination›› from August 21-23, 2023, in Arba Minch. Click here to see more pictures.

Arba Minch University Vice President for Research and Community Engagement, Behailu Merdekios, Associate Professor, in his welcoming remark said that NTDs are a group of diseases that affect millions of people around the world; especially those in low-income and marginalized regions causing a range of health problems.  Arba Minch University along with its esteemed faculty members and passionate partners is at the forefront of collaborating with all the cohorts working on prevention, control and eradication of NTDs in Ethiopia by establishing one and the only Collaborative Research and Training Center for NTDs in Ethiopia since 2013, he remarked. He further explained that our multidisciplinary approach, combining academic expertise, community engagement, and technological advancements have yielded significant results in understanding the diseases and suggesting feedback on effective program level implementation strategies for improvement through the twice a year independent monitoring of the MDA campaigns since 2014.

Dr. Dereje Duguma, State Minister of the Federal Ministry of Health of Ethiopia, opening the conference said that such a gathering gives instrumental opportunity to discuss and share experience on approaches being applied to accelerate elimination of NTDs in each participating country. Moreover, the conference is also important to strengthen networking among countries, international stakeholders and the academia who took part in the conference. He emphasized on the need of collaborative and holistic effort, mobilizing domestic resource to achieve the ambitious NTD elimination agenda for the year 2030.

Dr. Teshome Gebre, Regional Director for the Task Force for Global Health noted that Trachoma is among the main NTDs and a public health problem throughout the world particularly in Africa. He mentioned that it has been more than 20 years since the effort of preventing the disease started at the international level considering the problems. He further explained that West and Southern African countries have achieved better results in controlling and eliminating Trachoma; however, some East African countries have not been able to control the disease as it is planned. He pointed out that maintaining personal and environmental hygiene, improving the supply of clean drinking water and raising public awareness and a concerted effort is needed to prevent the spread of it in East Africa and in other parts of the world.

Among the participants of the conference, Mr. Mhiretab Abreha, NTD Program Manager at Eritrean Ministry of Health said that the prevalence of Trachoma disease reached 35 percent in Eritrea, but due to numerous concerted national efforts, the disease's prevalence has now dropped to less than five percent. He added that currently, Trachoma has declined to the point where it is no longer considered a public health concern in the nation; district leaders, non-governmental organizations, women's and youth associations, and the government all played significant roles in bringing this tremendous change.

Director for Collaborative Research and Training Centre for NTDs, Mr. Tsegaye Yohanis Assistant Professor, in his part said that the center aspires to be center of excellence in research, training and consultancy on NTDs in East Africa by 2025. According to him, the creation of these kinds of international platforms at Arba Minch will make it much easier for the research center to collaborate with different governmental and non-governmental stakeholders.

Representatives from 13 African countries and stakeholders from national and international partners took part in the meeting and the team has also visited research endeavors of AMUs Collaborative Research and Training Center for Neglected Tropical Diseases.


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