Last week saw all partners from the COUNTDOWN Consortium assembled in Ghana to develop and solidify their implementation research plans on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
The opening meeting was presided over by the Ghanaian NTD ambassador, Dr Joyce Aryee who warmly welcomed delegates from Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria, as well as, those from the UK and USA. Detailed discussions took place over the three days, which highlighted progress being made and challenges ahead.
A central theme throughout the meeting was ensuring that current and future research was consistent with progress indicators with the consortium's collective reporting tool. COUNTDOWN's Director, LSTM'sProfessor Russel Stothard said: "There are already several things that COUNTDOWN can be duly proud, one in particular was the ability to recommence activities in Liberia given the cessation of the EBOLA epidemic and health system shock. We now look forward to making rapid progress there and congratulate our colleagues Karsor Kollie and Anthony Bettee who were actively involved in the response(link is external)."
The meeting also coincided with the 4th Meeting on Preventive Chemotherapy of the NTD Regional Programme Review Group, during sessions breaks the team were able to discuss directly with NTD colleagues from WHO-Geneva and WHO-AFRO. This provided the latest news of the launch of Expanded Special Project for Elimination of NTDs (ESPEN) An African Region free of Neglected Tropical Diseases which will be 23rd May at the World Health Assembly. Professor Stothard continued: "Further to the scientific discussions, a key outcome from this 1st Annual Review Meeting was seeing the transition of COUNTDOWN from a partnership of researchers into an international ‘family’ of colleagues each motivated by their endeavors to strive towards a common goal – to reduce the suffering caused by NTDs."