Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

I am very pleased to join you to help launch the Roadmap for Ending Neglected Tropical Diseases.

I congratulate Dr Tedros and the World Health Organisation for giving much-needed attention to this topic, despite the urgency of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Historically, these diseases have been neglected, because they happen to be endemic to poor countries.

These diseases cause pain and long-term disability. They also prevent children from reaching their full potential, both cognitively and physically.

So it is very important that the international community is rallying around this agenda for a decade of action, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In Rwanda, we have integrated NTD medication into the national supply chain, down to the community level.

We are also in the process of certifying the eradication of sleeping sickness in Rwanda.

The fight against NTDs is part of the broader agenda to strengthen national health systems, and achieve Universal Health Coverage.

The health systems that serve to combat pandemics such as Covid-19 or HIV/AIDS, are the same institutions that lead the campaign against NTDs.

Investing in health is very good value for money.

In this regard, allow me to stress the importance of increasing domestic financing for health, especially in Africa.

Domestic health financing is a priority for the African Union, and progress is being tracked across member states on an annual basis.

This effort is intended to complement the partnership funding which has made such a difference in Africa, and to make those partnerships more sustainable.

Rwanda will host the Malaria & NTD Summit in Kigali in June, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

This gathering will be an opportunity to advance the commitments under the Roadmap, and I invite you all to participate.

It is possible to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases within a generation.

This Roadmap shows us how, and now we must get to work and implement it.

I thank you very much.