Toyin Saraki, Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa and Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), has warned against “business as usual” as global leaders meet in Davos, Switzerland, for this year’s World Economic Forum gathering.
Mrs Saraki will address key meetings throughout the annual meeting, including “One Billion Improved Lives: Progress and Lessons Learned from the Movement to End Neglected Tropical Diseases” organised by the END Fund alongside Dr. Mwele Malecela, Director, Neglected Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization.
As Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group to the WHO Africa Office, Mrs Saraki is expected to intervene to call for Neglected Tropical Diseases, or NTDS, to be prioritised in Nigeria, which has the largest NTD burden in Africa. According to the END Fund, all five of the most common NTDs are present in the country: intestinal worms, river blindness, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and schistosomiasis, with more than 128 million people requiring treatment for at least one NTD in 2016.
In advance of the World Economic Forum Mrs Saraki commented:
“My message going into Davos is that we can neither accept nor afford a ‘business as usual’ approach.”
“I will call on world leaders to prioritise the fight against NTDs and the key issues surrounding them, such as improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) standards. In Nigeria, we cannot hope to overcome NTDs while our direction of travel on these issues and indicators is backwards.”
“I welcome the fact that six of the seven co-chairs of the World Economic Forum this year are young people – our discussions must be forward-looking and bold.”
“I will also continue to support the WHO with its agenda to forge ahead with Universal Health Coverage and encourage the international community and national Governments to effectively and urgently support it.”
“As Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives, I will be highlighting the dangers faced by healthworkers on the frontline as they provide care to the most vulnerable people in the world. Their security must be at the forefront of our minds and in 2019, for the good of women, children and all communities.”
“All stakeholders should leave Davos with the conviction and determination that business as usual must transform to business unusual, to activate sustainable progress and deliver health and wellbeing for all. We must strive to ensure that the innovation and ideas we exchange here annually are activated swiftly to deliver progress and impact to at-risk frontline communities, breaking the barriers of socio-ecomic inequity.”