Policy & Global Development

Documentary on Oriol Mitjà and the Fight Against Yaws Screened at United Nations

The need to act decisively against yaws stressed by ISGlobal researcher during panel discussion after the screening

12.07.2016

Where the Roads End, a documentary film capturing the work of ISGlobal researcher Oriol Mitjà against yaws disease, was screened yesterday at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The international premier of the film took place in the framework of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development thanks to the support of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Spanish Permanent Mission to the UN, and the UN Department of Public Information.

Over 300 people attended the screening, which was followed by a panel discussion. The WHO representative to the UN, the Spanish ambassador to the UN, and the Special Adviser to the Secretary General on the Sustainable Development Goals were among those who attended the event.

The panel discussion after the screening focused on the need to fight this disease that persists despite the existence of an effective and affordable cure because of a lack of political will. The persistence of yaws and other diseases for which effective cures exist is one of the most distressing illustrations of the existence of a lottery of birth by which a person’s birthplace determines whether he or she will live a full life or exist in extreme poverty. Putting an end to this deplorable inequality depends entirely on whether or not the will exists to change the situation.

During the panel discussion, Oriol Mitjà called upon all the actors with the capacity to take action against yaws to shoulder their responsibilities. He went on to say that the governments of all the countries where yaws is endemic should consider the needs of vulnerable populations exposed to the risk of contracting this and other neglected infectious diseases and prioritise them in their policies. The researcher also argued that the governments of wealthier countries should prioritise the fight against these neglected diseases in their development cooperation programmes as a step towards reducing the global inequity that benefits their populations to the detriment of the well-being of those living in developing countries. Dr Mitjà concluded by saying that other actors in this arena, such as private foundations and philanthropic institutions, should also work towards reducing the totally avoidable suffering caused by this disease.

During his intervention, Dr Mitjà stressed that dealing with yaws and other neglected diseases that cause permanent disabilities should be a priority in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs). While this mandate is covered specifically by goals 3.3 and 3.8, the multiplying effect of any progress in this area would also have a positive impact on the progress of other SDGs. He made the point that eradicating yaws and addressing other neglected diseases would have a multiplying effect, for example, on education and food security.

 

More information

Strategies for yaws eradication - ISGlobal

www.wheretheroadsendfilm.com