Participatory Approaches, Women’s Involvement Critical To Eradicating NTDs In Africa
Project Syndicate: Enlisting Women in Africa’s Health Fight
Matshidiso Moeti, regional director for Africa at the WHO
“…Because women and girls in their childbearing years suffer disproportionately from the health and social effects of [neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), it is critically important that they be included in any large-scale health policy interventions that are proposed. And, beyond making women the focus of NTD programs, we should acknowledge that they will play a central role in advancing the sustainable development agenda. We need to empower women and girls to promote and lead social mobilization efforts in Africa. Women are front-line partners for public health advocates who are working to make essential medicines available across the continent. Moreover, women can help to control NTD vectors at the source, by ensuring that all members of their community are complying with anti-NTD drug distribution and treatment programs. Ongoing efforts to control and eliminate NTDs in Africa have made some progress. But the time has come to develop more innovative policy tools. We urgently need integrated, inter-programmatic, and inter-sectoral approaches that address NTDs’ social, economic, and etiological dynamics. And we will need the full participation of the most vulnerable communities. Without that, no program aimed at ultimately eradicating NTDs can succeed…” (4/19).