The First International Podoconiosis Conference took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 23rd September 2018. The overall theme for the conference was ‘Research to Implementation: A Call for Global Action’.
The Brighton & Sussex Centre for Global Health Research and Footwork were delighted to unite with local NGOs, University partners and the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health to host this conference. As the country bearing the highest burden of podoconiosis globally as well as the one with the most advanced research and implementation, Ethiopia was the ideal setting for this conference.
The day offered a diverse mix of keynote speakers, plenary sessions, presentations and panel discussions. Presentation sessions explored areas of podoconiosis research from aetiology and distribution through to disease consequences, prevention and treatment. Those implementing programmes had the opportunity to share experience and develop partnerships. The conference closed with the launch of a Declaration to affirm global commitment to eliminating podoconiosis within our lifetimes.
We were delighted with the response from the podo community. Approximately 130 people from 10 countries attended the conference, and around 260 attendees came to our joint reception with The Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network (NNN) whose conference took place the following day. We also had an active online community on social media with approximately 44,200 accounts reached on twitter with our conference hashtag #podo18.
“Podoconiosis impacts four million people in more than 15 countries around the world,” says Dr Kebede Deribe, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at BSMS, who is mapping the global distribution of the disease, “but we are now at the point of translating our many years of research into implementation. With the right interventions, we can eliminate podo within our lifetime, and this conference was a first step in achieving that.”
Gail Davey, Professor of Global Health Epidemiology at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said, “The day went brilliantly, galvanizing researchers, implementers and policy makers towards a podo-free world. It was fantastic to hear running legend Haile Gebrselassie and broadcaster Nunu Wako offer their support in front of the wider NTD community.”
Delegates called on the World Health Organization to develop a clear strategy for tackling podo, and signed a declaration (page 10 on our programme) calling for an end to podo in our lifetime.
The full conference programme along with presentations and posters can now be viewed on our conference pages.