Friday Reading List

New Paper Highlights Key Progress, Challenges Ahead of Post-2015 Agenda Setting

 

boys collecting water in Citoboke, along the Congo Border

In an important new paper, “Neglected tropical diseases: now more than just ‘other disease’ — the post-2015 agenda,” published in International Health, David Molyneux, professor at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, captures why defeating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is so critical. He writes, “The overall context of NTD control is the contribution it makes to the alleviation of poverty and improved social and economic prospects of individuals and communities.”

Given NTDs’ profound impact on poverty — and the potential for their control and elimination to make progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and targets set in the post-2015 development agenda — NTD partners must do everything possible to ensure World Health Organization (WHO) targets are met by 2020.

Before outlining the key challenges and actions needed to overcome them, Professor Molyneux recognizes advancements made in the global NTD fight.

For instance, in 2006, the U.S. committed resources to implement integrated NTD control programs through USAID, while in 2008, the UK pledged financial support through DFID, marking the beginning of their longstanding commitments to NTDs. In 2012, following the creation of the WHO Roadmap for NTDs and the formation of the London Declaration, the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a historic resolution on all 17 NTDs in May 2013.

2013 was also a milestone year because the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel report included NTDs alongside other pressing global health issues. Following this momentum, in spring 2014, a Lancet editorial reiterated the importance of addressing NTDs in the Sustainable Development Goals, and in summer 2014, the draft SDGs featured NTDs under proposed goal 3, “Attain healthy lives for all.”

Efforts in endemic countries have also led to successes. For instance, innovations in mapping disease burdens and diagnostics prove that “defining the areas of intervention can be undertaken rapidly and without the need for invasive or intrusive procedures [which have] been a contributing factor in the successful scale up of mass drug administration.” Community Directed Treatment (CDTI) and the reliance on existing infrastructure have helped “ensure that drugs are collected and distributed in ways that are best decided by the communities themselves.”

Yet remaining challenges could threaten the tremendous momentum attained to-date. The challenges — and their solutions— according to Professor Molyneux include:

Funding. “The funding provided is a fraction of that available for other diseases and a reflection of the gross inequity to implement programs that address the diseases of the poor.” Even with generous support from the U.S. and UK, funding from endemic countries and new commitments — such as resources pledged through the London Declaration to address soil-transmitted helminths — resource mobilization among diverse development partners is needed to ensure donated medicines reach the most vulnerable communities.

Implementation. Even though “over the past 3 years, in excess of 700 million treatments have been given annually” for the seven most common NTDs, efforts must be scaled up to reach all at-risk people, especially in conflict areas.

Human resources. Mass drug administrations all around the world are carried out through the work of thousands of health workers and volunteers — such as in Myanmar. But health systems must continue to be strengthened to adequately handle competing health priorities and deliver NTD and other treatments.

Application of research. While the NTD community has produced a rich body of research, “moving policy into practice needs to be accelerated.”

With the progress made thus far, there is clearly no choice but to continue the good work being carried out and expand efforts where current challenges lie.

To read the paper, click here

Global Health Partners Continue to Urge the Inclusion of Neglected Tropical Diseases in the Post-2015 Development Agenda

 

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In a recently-released policy brief, partners from the global health community continue to urge all United Nations (UN) Member States to ensure that the forthcoming post-2015 framework include specific targets for the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs); Doing so would reduce human suffering, increase economic prosperity and help achieve greater global equality for more than one billion people affected by NTDs in the developing world.

Because NTDs have far reaching effects on several other poverty and development interventions – such as efforts to increase maternal and child health, combat HIV/AIDS and increase school attendance and nutrition – the inclusion of NTDs in the post-2015 framework would be a win for not just the NTD community, but for all those seeking to end poverty, increase health and boost prosperity.

Even more, when integrated with water and sanitation, nutrition, child and maternal health, and education initiatives, NTD control and elimination efforts are proven more effective and sustainable. The overlapping nature of NTDs should be clearly stated in the final post-2015 development agenda, state the co-signers of the policy brief.

Investing in the control and elimination is a “best buy” and one of the most cost-effective health interventions in global health. For approximately US $0.50 per person per year, we can treat and prevent these diseases and in turn improve nutrition, education, maternal and child health, and HIV outcomes, and set the stage for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

UN Secretary General has already echoed the importance of NTD control and elimination efforts in the fight against poverty. “I share your view that poverty reduction and the elimination of NTDs go hand-in-hand,” he said in October, 2013.

NTDs have already been included in the UN High Level Panel’s final 2013 report on the post-2015 agenda; in the World Health Assembly’s May 2014 resolution on health and the post-2015 development agenda; and, just last week in the UN’s Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals’ final draft of the Proposed Sustainable Development Goals and Targets for the post-2015 agenda.

While the inclusion of NTDs in the preceding reports and resolutions is a very promising sign, government leaders must continue to support the inclusion of health goals and targets for NTDs during the Member State negotiations throughout the coming year. This continued support will help build momentum leading up to the final post-2015 development agenda and its ultimate approval in the fall of 2015.

To read the full brief, click here. And to read more about NTDs and the post-2015 development agenda, click here.

Free Online Class Teaches Students How to Change the World and End NTDs!

 

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Thanks to an online course beginning today, it’s now possible to learn just what it takes to change the world – for free! From climate change to global health and gender equality, the Coursera class, titled “How to Change the World” will give ordinary people the stats, knowledge and facts to become change-makers and advocates for a better world.

At Global Network, we’re especially excited that neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and our END7 campaign are featured in this week’s class – and the 20,000 people from around the world who are already enrolled in will be exposed to some of the most common yet easily treated diseases in the developing world.

The course, which attracted 60,000 online students during its initial run in February 2014, is led by Michael Roth, President of Wesleyan University. This week’s topic, “Disease and Global Health Care,” introduces course enrollees to key global health challenges and innovative approaches to care. A lecture on “Care, Organization, and Making a Difference” includes a presentation given by Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director of the Global Network; David Harris, executive creative director of Draftfcb in London; and Peter Koechley, co-founder of UpWorthy at the 2013 Social Good Summit in New York City. In the presentation, “Is Shock Value an Effective Way to Spur Social Good?,” Dr. Mistry explained the END7 campaign’s goal to create a movement around the NTD control and elimination effort:

“We have a wonderful public-private partnership with the pharmaceutical industry who are donating all the drugs, and we have great technical experts that actually help to ensure that these drugs get to the people that require them. So now we need to create the movement to ensure that it’s seeded in the public consciousness, and that enables us to influence policy and get more money for the cause for essentially a voiceless community.”

Footage from END7’s “How to Shock a Celebrity” video is also included in another lecture this week on “Major Health Challenges and Responses,” introducing course enrollees to the physical effects of NTDs.

Given the wide-ranging impact of NTDs – including reduced economic productivity and educational attainment, malnutrition and increased susceptibility to illness, and stunted physical and cognitive development – it is encouraging to see NTD treatment highlighted as a key global health intervention. We are excited to see END7 featured in this innovative public forum as a platform for “How to Change the World,” and excited to invite new supporters to join our campaign!