On January 30th, global civil society advocates, community leaders, global health experts, and policymakers are uniting to mark the annual World NTD Day.

Created to galvanize the global health community and engage the general public in the urgent effort to end neglected tropical diseases, World NTD Day will bring together more than 300 partner organizations from 55 countries working across the diverse global health landscape to end NTDs.

The UAE has spearheaded diplomatic efforts to obtain official recognition of the day by The World Health Organization, while the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court has played a lead role in galvanizing partners and supporting the day. These efforts continue the UAE’s history and leadership in global disease elimination and are part of Reaching the Last Mile, portfolio of global health programs working towards disease elimination that is driven by the personal commitment of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

“COVID-19 has placed a huge strain on global health systems, but we refuse to let it beat us down. NTD programmes have already proven that they can adapt quickly, ensuring life-saving messages and treatments reaches the hardest to reach populations on our planet. We know that by protecting some of the most vulnerable communities from NTDs, we’re making the whole world more resilient to future pandemics.

“Uniting to Combat NTDs applauds His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, for his personal commitment to ending the neglect of neglected tropical diseases this World NTD Day.”

The critical need to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) NTDs affect more than 1.7 billion people – often those living in extreme poverty, in remote communities, and without access to basic needs like clean water – and cost developing economies billions of dollars every year. Significant progress has been made since the landmark 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, which unified partners across sectors, countries and disease communities to push for greater investment and action on NTDs. Today, hundreds of millions of people no longer require treatment for NTDs and several countries have eliminated diseases that had been prevalent for thousands of years.

This year’s World NTD Day is drawing attention to the launch of the World Health Organization’s new roadmap to end NTDs. The WHO Roadmap is a guide for the global health community to create new, innovative cross-sector partnerships, to fill the gaps and strengthen countries’ capacity, and, ultimately, to make NTD interventions sustainable.

World NTD Day Activations Building on the spirit of global collective action, more than 60 landmarks across 40 cities and 24 nations will be lit up on World NTD Day in an effort to remind people they cannot turn a blind eye to vulnerable health systems around the world. These well-known monuments span the globe with landmarks including The Great Wall of China, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena and Tokyo Tower.

The UAE will light up 14 monuments across Abu Dhabi and Dubai, including Burj Al Arab, The Dubai Frame, Emirates Palace, Etihad Arena, and the ADNOC HQ.

In addition, the global community will be activated on social media via entertaining and informative videos, social media challenges and human stories from affected countries being shared by partner organizations. A series of virtual events was held in the week leading up to World NTD Day, featuring experts and frontline health workers exploring the intersections between NTDs and the broader global health space.

In the UAE, almost 100 schools were engaged through learning modules and interactive challenges. UAE-based partners such as ADNOC, The Emirates Red Crescent, Etihad Airways and Lulu Hypermarket, as well as the Federal Youth Authority have also joined the call to action, lending their platforms to support the day and the cause.

Support from The WHO Recognizing that the annual celebration of the day provides a vital service to the world’s work to end NTDs, the World Health Organization’s Executive Board passed a decision on 23 January recommending that WHO officially support activities marking 30 January as World NTD Day, and inviting Member States and others to celebrate the day. The recommendation will be considered at the 74th World Health Assembly, taking place in May 2021.

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