The State of Qatar, represented by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) signed yesterday a $3mn grant agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO), on the sidelines of the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH).
The agreement aims to control and eradicate a number of marginalised tropical diseases, which are still widespread in Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is the first of its kind between the Qatar Fund for Development and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The grant comes in line with the pledge made by the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) on behalf of the Government of the State of Qatar during the International Conference on Tropical Diseases in Africa, organised by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development in co-operation with the World Health Organisation (WHO), in Kuwait in October last year.
The agreement was signed by QFFD’s Deputy Director-General for Development Projects Misfer Hamad al-Shahwani, and WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti.
This funding is a major boost to the ongoing efforts of ESPEN, a five-year project launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016 to support African countries in the treatment of diseases. Five diseases were selected for the purpose of the programme. The results of research and experiments conducted in some parts of the African continent indicate the possibility of eliminating these diseases permanently.
The programme covers 47 African countries with one or more diseases, including 36 countries with five or more diseases.
The programme directly benefits between 300-400mn people a year.
Between 700 and 800mn tablets of drugs are provided annually by pharmaceutical companies free of charge as needed.
Currently, only about 30% of people with or with some of these diseases are receiving treatment.
Most of those in need, live in rural and remote areas. These areas require considerable efforts to cover these numbers,and to reach them through international and local voluntary organisations that play a very important role in distributing medicines and financial contributions from international institutions.
The agreement also aims to cover 100 chemical treatments for the prevention of marginalised diseases by 2020.
The programme will run for two years from 2018 to 2020.
Forty-seven African countries will also support the poorest countries in which people live in rural areas, slums and conflict areas, through the treatment of debilitating diseases, strengthening information systems for evidence-based decision-making and measuring progress towards the elimination of marginalised diseases, as well as improving the use of medicines to treat marginalised tropical diseases. Masfer al-Shahwani said in a statement said that Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) considers healthcare as one of the highest priority sectors, as it is part of the goals of sustainable development, specifically the Third Goal, “to ensure a healthy life and well-being for all. More than 70 countries and territories reporting neglected tropical diseases are countries with low or low-income middle-income economies. Therefore, this type of project is in line with the State of Qatar’s framework to help the needy around the world,” he added.
“This contribution will help African countries to control and mitigate these diseases, thereby supporting poverty alleviation, improving economic production and ensuring a decent life for those affected in Africa,” he said.
For her part, the WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti expressed her gratitude to the State of Qatar for its donation, praising the Fund’s efforts to assist those in need.”I am delighted that the Qatar Fund Development (QFFD) joins the community of partners working together to break the cycle of poverty and misery caused by these diseases,” she said.
The agreement comes within the framework of the State of Qatar’s interest in helping those in need and securing a better future. It is also in line with the vision of the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) to give hope and promote peace and justice through sustainable and comprehensive development.
The WHO Africa office hosts the project and runs the programme in partnership with African governments, donors, non-governmental organisations and pharmaceutical companies.
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