The London Declaration: One Year Later

 

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the London Declaration—an unprecedented  pledge by a group of public and private partners to control or eliminate 10 NTDs by 2020. This includes an uptick in drug donations, research and development and bilateral support for NTD programs around the world.

Several reports and updates have been released today to showcase the progress since 2012 as well as the goals and challenges for 2013 and beyond.

From Promises to Progress: The First Annual Report on the London Declaration on NTDs,”  issued by Uniting to Combat NTDs, documents key accomplishment in  2012 and targets moving into 2013. This group also issued a London Declaration Scorecard, which was developed to hold partners accountable for their commitments, improve transparency and make visible areas where additional collaboration is possible or where gaps remain.

Caroline Harper, Chair of the UK Coalition against NTDs, and Chief Executive of Sightsavers, says: “Many of the steps forward in the fight against NTDs over the past 12 months are the result of public and private partners working together.  One of the biggest achievements is the development of the London Declaration Scorecard as a new tool to unite all NTD partners.  It will drive collaborative working, outlining the responsibilities of the wide variety of partners involved.”

Highlights from the report include these notable achievements in 2012:

  • The world’s leading pharmaceutical companies provided 1.12 billion treatments for NTDs, an increase of 150 million treatments from 2011. These commitments fully met the increased requests from endemic country partners and removed a key bottleneck to the successful treatment and prevention of NTDs.
  • Twenty-nine countries began receiving albendazole or mebendazole to treat or prevent soil-transmitted helminthiasis, increasing treatments provided with those drugs from 46 million in 2011 to 238 million in 2012.
  • Oman became the first previously endemic country verified as trachoma-free[!], with more expected later in 2013.

“These numbers are more than just drugs delivered or funds committed. They ultimately mean that millions of people have been spared pain and suffering from these debilitating diseases,” said Christopher A. Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi. “Through new and innovative partnerships, we can continue to help break the cycle of poverty and overcome the burden of NTDs.”

In coordination with the anniversary report and the scorecard, WHO released its Second Report on NTDs: Sustaining the Drive to Overcome the Global Impact of Neglected Tropical Diseases. This report notes that support from countries endemic for NTDs and partners have helped fast-track actions and initiatives that are now having a measurable impact.

“With this new phase in the control of these diseases, we are moving ahead towards achieving universal health coverage with essential interventions,” says Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO. “The challenge now is to strengthen capacity of national disease programmes in endemic countries and streamline supply chains to get the drugs to the people who need them, when they need them.”

As reported in The Guardian the numbers suggest that progress is being made in the fight against NTDs, and we’re moving closer to elimination goals. However in 2012, dengue ranked as the fastest spreading vector-borne viral disease, with an epidemic potential in the world, registering a 30-fold increase in disease incidence over the past 50 years. Reuters has more on that story.

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