Dr. Austin Demby, Minister of Health and Sanitation, on Sunday, December 3rd, 2023, reinforced President Dr. Julius Maada Bio’s unwavering commitment to eradicating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) emphasizing their pivotal role in transforming the lives of Sierra Leoneans.
Addressing a gathering in Dubai , convened by ‘Reaching the Last Mile,’ Dr. Demby echoed Sierra Leone’s dedication to tackling climate-health challenges in last-mile communities, focusing on diseases such as polio, malaria and NTDs.
Highlighting the transformative impact of eliminating NTDs, Dr. Demby stressed Sierra Leone’s resolve to break the cycle of suffering and drive positive societal change. He underscored that such a commitment is aimed to keep children in school, empower adults to secure livelihoods, and advance gender equity.
With over 7 million individuals urgently requiring interventions against NTDs, Sierra Leone faces ongoing cycles of poverty, costing the nation billions annually.
Dr. Demby emphasized the disproportionate impact on women and girls, particularly those of reproductive age, leading to adverse outcomes. Representing President Bio, he announced Sierra Leone’s pledge of $500,000, demonstrating steadfast support in the fight against NTDs.
Her Excellency Reem Bint Ebrahim Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, hailed the occasion as a historic display of global solidarity to combat tropical diseases. She revealed the UAE President’s commitment of $100 million to expand the ‘Reaching the Last Mile Fund,’ envisioning an Africa free from preventable diseases.
Among the prominent speakers was Bill Gates, Co-Founder of the Gates and Melinda Foundation, who pledged $100 million towards the cause. Sierra Leone anticipates benefiting from these funds to address tropical diseases.
Accompanying Dr. Demby at the forum was Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the UAE, Rashid Sesay.