September 27, 2019

Event Report: TICAD7 “An Africa free from Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) - A partnership between Africa and Japan”

GHIT co-hosted an official side event at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) 7 convened together with the Japan Alliance on Global Neglected Tropical Diseases (JAGntd), DNDi Japan, Eisai Co., Ltd., Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA), SDGs Promise Japan, and Uniting to Combat NTDs (UTC). The event entitled “An Africa free from Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) - A partnership between Africa and Japan,” explored Japan’s contributions and efforts toward NTD elimination, underscored the importance of continuous efforts to fight against NTD under the TICAD framework, and called for action together with the international community and African leaders. Throughout the event, a diverse set of speakers shared their perspectives on NTD elimination.


Mr. Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Member of the House of Representatives and Chairman of the Parliamentary Association for NTDs eradication recognized Japan's contributions and its leadership role in elimination of NTDs. He also emphasized that further efforts are necessary to achieve universal health coverage and drive economic growth in Africa.


Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), expressed his view that it is essential to tackle NTDs from the perspective of human security, which is one of Japan’s most important foreign policy pillars.


Dr. Mwele Malecela, World Health Organization (WHO) NTD Director described WHO’s strategy and NTD elimination roadmap, calling for Japan’s further support and commitment to achieve ambitious targets.


Prof. Kenji Hirayama, Institute of Tropical Medicine at Nagasaki University and Executive Director of JAGntd, shared Japan’s experience on selective mass treatment and environmental sanitation programs to control and eliminate NTDs in Japan, which resulted in the successful eradication of schistosomiasis and lymphatic filariasis. He also pointed out that experiences in Japan have been fully leveraged in the development of global NTD control programs.


Dr. Haruo Naito, Representative Corporate Officer and CEO of Eisai emphasized his company’s continuous support for, and partnership with, WHO to eliminate lymphatic filariasis until its elimination. He reminded participants of the broader life science industry’s notable contributions toward NTD elimination programs.


Dr. Takao Toda, Vice President for Human Security and Global Health at JICA, stressed the importance of long-term commitment and engagement to eliminating NTDs, as well as the importance of human-centered approaches, including capacity development in African countries, which the Japanese government has emphasized.


Dr. Monique Wasunna, Director of DNDi Africa, gave a presentation on elimination program progress in Africa. Togo and Ethiopia have successfully eliminated lymphatic filariasis for the first time on the African continent. Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to successfully eliminate trachoma. In these and other countries, treatment of NTDs is reaching more people and the risk of infection is decreasing. In recent years, the development of diagnostics and therapeutics for leishmaniasis and African sleeping sickness, which are indispensable for elimination programs, has progressed, and drug development for mycetoma has also advanced.


Next, Dr. Manabu Sumi, Director of the International Health Policy Office within the International Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Dr. Christopher Elias, President of the International Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, articulated desired future engagement from Japan and the international community. Dr. Sumi noted the Government of Japan’s continuous support for NTD elimination and described the outlook that GHIT Fund can play a critical role as a platform to leverage Japan's health technology and innovation for NTDs. Dr. Elias attributed achievements to date to ownership by African countries, support from donor countries like Japan, the US, the UK, and others, and proactive contributions from the pharmaceutical industry and international community.


Ms. Catherine Kaseri Ohura, GHIT Fund CEO, concluded by re-emphasizing TICAD’s value as a discussion platform for the NTD agenda and its countermeasures between Japanese, African, and global entities. Ms. Ohura also requested that all stakeholders continue to engage and collaborate toward the WHO’s 2030 target.