Neglected tropical diseases

Speech of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania his Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

01 April 2008 | Arusha
at the Opening of the 5th Meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis

Quotation from his Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

"Here in Africa, lymphatic filariasis exerts a heavy social burden. Often times, this gets especially severe because of the specific attributes of the disease, particularly since chronic complications are often hidden and are considered shameful. As Dr. Mohd Belhocine said, for or men, genital damage is a severe handicap leading to physical limitation and social stigmatization. For women, shame and ridicule are also associated with the disease. People affected by the swelling of limbs are considered undesirables. Marriage which could be a complimentary source of security and pride, is often a difficult matter for the affected.

It is therefore important that we appreciate the efforts being undertaken by the Global Alliance to eliminate this disease from our countries.

The progress that the Global Alliance has made over the past 10 years is phenomenal. I am told that it is the most rapidly expanding programme in the history of Public Health. I understand that the first treatment in Sub-Saharan Africa was in Mafia Island of Tanzania in 2000 and that since then over 1 billion treatments have been given in 44 countries all over the world. This is commendable and I would like to congratulate you all on this mammoth success.