COUNTDOWN Consortium launches blog Cross Talk

News article 3 Feb 2015

Cross Talk is a blog which has been set up by the COUNTDOWN Consortium, a research partnership which is focussed on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Cross Talk provides a platform for experts from various backgrounds and disciplines to come together to share new approaches to NTDs. The blog aims to prompt new ways of looking at the very old problem of NTDs and facilitate networks within this field. Most recently there have been blog contributions on the associations between Female Genital Schistosomiasis and HIV and on Mass Drug Administration.

Millions of people are affected by NTDs which cause  disability and distress. They effect the poorest and most marginalised. They are the most common diseases for people living on less than $2 a day.

However, there is much more that can be done to extend prevention and treatment services to those who need them. There are many barriers to the effective scale-up and roll out of NTD programmes that need to be overcome. These include: overburdened health systems; insufficient financing; inadequate monitoring and surveillance systems; lack of guidance on the planning and management of NTD service integration; and poor cross-governmental dialogue and action.

COUNTDOWN hopes to be part of a growing movement of researchers, non-governmental organisations, and government departments pushing for action on NTDs. LSTM reader and COUNTDOWN member Dr Sally Theobald says that “Movement towards universal health coverage for multiple NTDs requires new alliances and partnerships. It must be underpinned by careful health systems strengthening and an in-depth analysis of the opportunities, challenges and possible unintended consequences from a health systems perspective. It will be important to capture the voices and perspectives of front line health workers and understand the challenges they face in their critical role in addressing NTDs.”

Partners in the COUNTDOWN Consortium include: the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health; the Centre for Schistosomiasis and Parasitology in Cameroon; Ghana Health Service; FHI 360; Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare; Pamoja Communications and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). Cross Talk precedes COUNTDOWN’s website which is currently being built and will go live in March 2015.