The Sunday Mail
Leonard Ncube in Victoria Falls
PARTNERS making up the Tackling Infections to Benefit Africa (TIBA) initiative have signed the Kigali Declaration, to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
There are about 20 NTDs that are a health challenge to many African countries.
Most NTDs thrive due to lack of clean water and sanitation facilities.
Nine countries from the continent, namely: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe – represented by research institutes, universities and health scientists – make up TIBA, in partnership with the University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom).
TIBA also means “to cure an infection” in Kiswahili.
TIBA was established in 2017, and the Kigali Declaration was launched on 23 June 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Conference.
It is, however, not restricted to Commonwealth member states.
Its focus is on infectious diseases in Africa, mostly the neglected tropical diseases like bilharzia, sleeping sickness and malaria, among others.
TIBA director, Professor Mark Woolhouse of Edinburgh University, his deputy, Professor Francisca Mutapi from the same university, and Professor Moses Chimbari from South Africa led the signing ceremony at the TIBA dissemination meeting here in Victoria Falls.
The meeting started on Sunday and ends on Tuesday.
Prof Mutapi said the signing of the declaration should catapult partners to action in ending NTDs.
“The Kigali Declaration is signed by different stakeholders.
“So they are commitment for countries, researchers and scientists, pharmacists to complement in fighting NTDs,” said Prof Mutapi.
There is a total of 20 NTDs in Africa.
Severity varies with each country.
Prof Mutapi said about 1,7 billion people in the world require intervention against NTDs, while over 100 million people in the continent are affected by bilharzia, the most common NTD in Zimbabwe.
Executive director of Uniting to Combat NTDs, Mrs Thoko Elphick-Pooley, said the declaration is each member’s way of committing to addressing challenges of the NTDs.
“The signing of the Kigali Declaration is really about the country demonstrating its leadership position around ending neglected tropical diseases,” she said.
Zimbabwe leads in most of researches on the NTDs and the University of Zimbabwe, represented by Professor Takafira Mduluza at the meeting, is one of the institutions.
He said Zimbabwe had made significant progress in interventions on some of the diseases like bilharzia.
From the signing, the partners will lead their respective countries in domesticating the declaration towards ending the NTDs.