By: JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Kikiope Oluwarore, from Abuja, Nigeria has been selected as one of just 13 young health advocates from across the globe forming the first-ever advisory board at a new youth-led organization to fight Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Originally from Ibadan, the 33-year-old activist joins an impressive line-up of young talent which includes a scientist from the Gambia, an anthropologist from the Philippines and an entrepreneur from Tanzania on the board at Youth Combating NTDs. One of the first orders of business for Kikiope was to add her voice to that of the World Health Organization (WHO), government officials and a variety of NGOs as they call on world leaders not to forget the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) – which affect one in five people on the planet.
Kikiope joined a virtual global summit organised by Uniting to Combat NTDs which is aiming to keep NTDs on the health agenda as world leaders and policymakers tackle COVID. Kikiope is a public health professional, writer and founder of One Health and Development Initiative (OHDI). She has a DVM degree from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria; and as a Commonwealth Scholar, she completed her MSc degree in Global Health and Infectious Diseases from the University of Edinburgh. She says: “Nigeria needs to step up its efforts against NTDs. I believe that young people could be a driving force to help escalate that.”
Youth Combating NTDs founder Gerald Chirinda is delighted Kikiope has been appointed to the board. He said, “As the largest demographic in the world, young people are also the largest at risk of being affected by NTDs. Young people represent a key constituent within the community, one that brings energy, innovative thinking and talent. Kikiope has demonstrated passion and focus in her social work to date. She brings determination, knowledge and a clear vision of what she would like to achieve.”
Nigeria is one of 32 countries that have successfully eliminated an NTD since the London Declaration on NTDs was signed in 2012. It was triumphant in eliminating guinea-worm which in 1988 affected more than 650,000 Nigerians. Now the disease has been stopped in its tracks. Kikiope hopes similar progress can be made in the fight against other diseases.
Gerald continued, “Our mission is to build an effective global community of youth like Kikiope in Nigeria who are fighting NTDs, by equipping and strengthening young advocates and leaders with the resources that amplify their voices and influence in innovating and shaping policies that will end NTDs in their communities.
“Millennials can help to end Neglected Tropical Diseases and Kikiope will help us to spread that message.
“We are asking people to join the global pledge at #EndTheNegect”
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of debilitating infectious diseases that affect over 1.7 billion people around the world. They disable, disfigure and sometimes kill.
Youth Combating NTDs is a global community made up of young people who are involved in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
This youth-focused and led initiative is designed to mainstream the participation of young people within the NTD community across all its activities. Youth Combating NTDs is an initiative of Uniting to Combat NTDs and Future Africa Forum.
The full advisory board line-up
- Noella Bigirimana (Chair) – Rwanda
- Matt Hughsam – Canada
- Dr. Neneh Sallah – Gambia
- Enow Awah Georges Stevens – Cameroon
- Dr. Kikiope Oluwarore – Nigeria
- Nilesh Jambhekar – India
- Jona Claire Turalde – Phillipines
- Dr. Joachim Mabula – Tanzania
- Shomy Hasan Chowdhury – Bangladesh
- Geoffrey Otieno – Kenya
- Lucy Fagan – United Kingdom
- Alistair Shingirai Mukondiwa – Zimbabwe
- Mary-Jean Nleya – Botswana