Written by Pete Garratt, Head of Operations Support at The Leprosy Mission International Office.
An excellent 2018 NTD NGO Network (NNN) conference has just concluded in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A lively stream of workshops highlighted numerous cross sector collaborations in water, sanitation and hygiene; in dealing with shifting populations and refugees; in equity and inclusion of those affected by these terrible diseases. I really enjoyed chairing a session of five rapid fire presentations followed by Q&As – a new innovation for NNN that helped keep the energy high. It was great to see so many new connections being made both during the day and into the evening receptions that we hosted.
I personally found the degree to which the massive burden of mental wellbeing issues was highlighted at this year’s NNN incredibly moving. In the West this is beginning to be much more talked about, and we at least have some services in this area; just imagine what life can be like in some of the poorest countries as someone faces up to the stigma, depression and suicidal thoughts that often accompany having a neglected tropical disease. It was especially powerful and inspiring to hear the personal testimonies of those affected, discussing what they have overcome, given precious airtime on the main stage and during multiple workshops. Next year we’re encouraging even more of the disease groupings to bring representatives from the those affected to join with us.
Pete Garratt is Head of Operations Support at The Leprosy Mission International Office, based in London. He joined the Mission in 2014, bringing more than 16 years of experience in leadership positions with a range of international development and humanitarian organisations, working predominantly across Asia and Africa. Pete is especially motivated about seeing leprosy defeated within his working lifetime.