Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Austin Demby has reiterated President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to eradicating neglected tropical diseases, as part of transforming the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
Dr. Demby made this statement while representing President Bio at a gathering in Dubai, organised by ‘Reaching the Last Mile’ to “galvanize new momentum and investment to address climate-health challenges confronting last-mile communities, with an emphasis on efforts to end diseases such as polio, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases (NTD).”
The Health Minister said that Sierra Leone recognised the transformative power of eliminating neglected tropical diseases, while adding that his country was dedicated to breaking the cycle of suffering and fostering positive societal change. He stated Sierra Leone’s commitment aimed to keep children in school, empower adults to secure decent livelihoods, and promote gender equity.
Dr. Demby disclosed that over 7 million people in Sierra Leone urgently required interventions against neglected tropical diseases, perpetuating cycles of poverty and costing the nation billions annually.
He added those diseases disproportionately affect women and girls, leading to adverse outcomes, particularly for women of reproductive age. Dr. Demby, on behalf of President Bio, also announced a commitment of $500,000 in show of Sierra Leone’s unwavering support to end neglected tropical diseases.
UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, Her Excellency Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy stated the occasion marked a historic show of solidarity in the global efforts to end related tropical diseases.
She also announced the UAE President’s commitment of $100 million to the expansion of the ‘Reaching the Last Mile Fund’, saying the move represented an ambitious vision for an Africa free from the burden of preventable diseases.
Other keynote speakers at the event included UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, Her Excellency Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, who also announced a commitment of $100 million. Sierra Leone stands to benefit from the Funds to help deal with tropical diseases.
Accompanying the Health Minister to the Forum was Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the UAE, Rashid Sesay.