COUNTDOWN Annual Meeting: Looking at progress made thus far

On Wednesday, 20th April 2016 all partners from the COUNTDOWN consortium gathered in Ghana for a 3-day meeting to discuss progress made thus far since the inception year of the implementation research programme. This 3-day annual review meeting got off to a good start with the opening meeting, which was attended by key officials including the NTD Ambassador in Ghana, Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee, the Director for Public Health of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Badu Sarkodie and the Director for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research /Water Research Institute (CSIR/WRI), Dr Joseph Addo Ampofo. The launch was chaired by COUNTDOWN Ghana country director, Dr Nana Kwadwo Biritwum and others present constituted journalists from media outlets in Ghana, researchers and scientists involved in the fight against neglected tropical diseases from partner countries, Cameroon, Nigeria, Liverpool, USA and UK.

In his introductory speech, Dr Sarkodie welcomed all partners from Nigeria, Cameroon, Liberia and visitors from Ghana. He stated that NTDs ‘have caused a lot of pain, disability and loss of productivity in countries affected by these diseases’. He commended COUNTDOWN for leading all partners, in taking steps to address the gaps that are present with regards to NTD control and management. Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee emphasised on the importance of tackling these neglected tropical diseases which have been a source of a lot of pain and burden not only to the people of Ghana but also to many people around the world. Furthermore, she urged for more women to be targeted during this fight.

The implementation research has been in effect for a year now and this meeting offered COUNTDOWN partners the platform to evaluate the progress made all throughout the inception year and monitor the progress made thus far. The research project has already been launched in Ghana and Cameroon and we look forward to its launch  in Nigeria and Liberia and working alongside partners who were actively engaged in the successful battle of eradicating Ebola and strengthening their health systems.

This 3-day working session was centred around research uptake and social sciences and partners were able to strengthen their implementation research plans and focus on ways to build capacity around communication and research uptake in their respective countries. COUNTDOWN Cameroon country director, Prof Tcheum Tchuente envisions that, at the end of this implementation research, there will be clear evidence indicating disruption of NTD transmission, which in turn will illustrate that elimination of NTDs is feasible.