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 Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: Woke up to seeing 'NTD Day' on your phone where the service provider name usually shows? It stands for the World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day and this year marks the second time the day has been observed.

Reem Al Hashimi, Minister for State for International Cooperation, announced the observance of the day in 2020 at the Reaching the Last Mile event at Louvre Abu Dhabi. She said at the event that the initiative was designed to galvanise efforts to tackle such conditions, which include river blindness, guinea-worm and trachoma, and predominantly affect the world’s poorest communities. Today [January 30] marks the second time the day is being officialy observed. 

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.

Speaking on the occasion of the 'World NTD Day', His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said: “Through Noor Dubai Foundation, we have successfully treated 18 million people with trachoma (one of the neglected tropical diseases that cause blindness), and distributed 87 million vaccine doses against the disease. We have also helped perform 350,000 operations for the visually impaired and trained 50,000 health professionals. Nothing will stop the UAE’s humanitarian and global march."

60 landmarks across the globe will light up

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.

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 January 23 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.

- Inputs from WAM