Today sees the publication of an NTD Scorecard which will bring further transformation to the way global partners, from endemic governments, and pharmaceutical companies to NGOs, are working together to achieve the elimination of this group of debilitating diseases.
Developed by the From Promises to Progress, a new report on NTDs, the Scorecard will help translate the aspirational vision of elimination of ten of the NTDs by 2020 into a reality.
When I first started working on NTDs 13 years ago, I never would have imagined progress like this. Elimination of NTDs such as blinding river blindness (onchocerciasis) seemed such a distant goal. How things have changed! We are now seeing promises turn into action which will make a colossal difference to the lives of over a billion people who are affected by NTDs.
The Scorecard sets out the strategic milestones that are crucial if we’re going to see real progress on these ten NTDs – in terms of raising funds, conducting research and development, and ultimately delivering the right number of treatments, to the right people, in the right communities. It’s all about achieving the scale-up needed.
The Scorecard also tracks commitments made by all the different partners involved, but more importantly, it will help reveal where the gaps are by pulling data together in one place. It will flag which diseases are not receiving enough funding or attention, and which endemic countries are facing extra hurdles and struggling to keep up. The NTD community will then be able to quickly identify what additional support is needed to help each country achieve its NTD goals. Simple.
Or maybe not. The Scorecard has its challenges, the biggest of which will be keeping the data up-to-date. This will depend on all partners being willing to share information with each other. This isn’t an easy ask and will be the test of if the partnership is working or not. .
One of the first steps this year will be to roll-out mapping of those diseases where we don’t have a full picture of the scale of the problem. For example, Department for International Development (DFID). Trachoma is already known to affect more than 21 million people but it’s estimated that an additional 180 million people worldwidelive in areas where trachoma is highly prevalent. The survey will help us understand the challenge ahead and will allow for a massive scaling-up of treatments on the ground.
Game-changing success against NTDs can only happen with the collaboration of all sectors. Seeing the NTD community make this enormous effort to come together to achieve the scale-up in treatments required gives me hope that we’ll be able to rid the world of some of its worst diseases.