Global resolve to end neglected tropical diseases amid unprecedented progress
19 April 2017 | Geneva -- The thrust to defeat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) grew stronger today with new pledges for assistance and medicine donations after the World Health Organization (WHO) launched its latest report showing the unprecedented progress achieved during the past five years.
Mr B. Gates, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Today, health ministers, donors, philanthropists and industry representatives attending the second Global Partners Meeting pledged further support to accelerate WHO’s work towards achieving the Roadmap targets set for 2020 as well as the elimination of many diseases by 2030.
“This new wave of support recognizes the progress we’ve achieved over the past five years” said Dr Dirk Engels, Director, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases. “For some diseases we’re ahead of our 2020 targets and if the trend is maintained, we have the brightest opportunity for ‘ending the epidemic of neglected tropical diseases by 2030’ as stated in the SDGs.”
Apart from celebrating 10 years of multi-stakeholder collaboration, today’s event also marked the fifth anniversary of the London Declaration. New announcements to strengthen the global resolve to eliminate and eradicate these diseases were made, including:
- An investment of £360 million (approximately US$ 460 million) to implement NTD programmes over the next five years by the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
- Grants of US$ 335 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the next four years (2017–2020);
- Pledges of €25 million (approximately US$ 26.8 million) (2017–2025) from the Government of Belgium to support the elimination of human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), plus an additional €10 million for five years (2025 – 2030);
- A pledge from EMS – the biggest domestic manufacturer of generic medicines in Brazil – to donate the oral antibiotic azithromycin to support WHO in the eradication of yaws;
- The donation by Vestergaard of tiny target traps for the control of tsetse flies that transmit sleeping sickness;
- A renewed pledge by the Japanese pharmaceutical company EISAI to donate diethylcarbamazine until the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis as a public health problem has been achieved; and
- The donation by the Mundo Sano Foundation (Argentina) of benznidazole for the paediatric treatment (for patients aged up to 19 years) of Chagas disease.
As an example of domestic funding at state level within Nigeria, Senator Professor Benedict Ayade, Executive Governor of Cross Rivers State announced US$ 5 million in NTD funding for activities that include provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene; capacity strengthening; delivery of medicines; integration of NTDs within state health insurance; and surveillance and data management.
WHO’s fourth global report on neglected tropical diseases – Integrating neglected tropical diseases into global health and development – was launched to celebrate “Collaborate. Accelerate. Eliminate.” The meeting was attended by health ministers, industry representatives, partners, philanthropists, donors and stakeholders.
The report describes how strong political support and donated medicines have yielded sustained expansion of disease control programmes in countries where these diseases are most prevalent. WHO is working with ministries of health in endemic countries and various local and international partners to deliver quality-assured medicines, and provide people affected by the diseases with care and long-term clinical management.
Progress has accelerated since 2012, when partners convened to pledge additional support and resources to eliminating 10 of the commonest NTDs. In 2015 alone, close to one billion people were treated for at least one disease. Countries are increasingly demonstrating strong political will in implementing control and elimination programmes and in raising awareness among their peoples.
Furthermore, the availability of safe, quality-assured donated medicines and better coordination with donors and stakeholders is enabling the annual shipment of more than 1.5 billion tablets to countries requesting these medicines.
Recent outbreaks of dengue, chikungunya, Zika virus disease and yellow fever have re-energized efforts to improve vector control. Next month, the Seventieth World Health Assembly will review proposals for a new Global Vector Control Response.
Brighter prospects also lie ahead for prioritizing cross-sectoral collaboration to promote veterinary public health and access to safe water, better sanitation and improved hygiene.