17 diseases, 1 resolution and a better future for more than 1.5 billion people


Taking on 17 diseases with names like schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and dracunculiasis may seem daunting. Yet earlier this year the World Health Organization (WHO) set targets for intensified control, elimination or eradication of all of these neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.

In the past, NTDs were tackled vertically, or one by one, even in parts of the world where people were at risk for multiple infections. For decades the World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the WHO, has chipped away at this huge global health challenge by passing resolutions that address individual NTDs.

But yesterday the WHA passed a landmark resolution that for the first time takes on all 17 NTDs at once. The resolution reinforces the approach that the global health community has taken recently to combat NTDs, which focuses on combining treatment programs for the most common NTDs to achieve cost reductions and increase coverage.

This is significant not only because it more effectively addresses these pervasive diseases of poverty; it also elevates the status of diseases that individually would not attract such attention, despite their tremendous impact on the world’s most vulnerable populations. Now is the time for action. As Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network, notes in the video below:

Collectively, these 17 diseases affect a billion and a half people around the world and these are the billion and a half people that live on less than a $1.25 a day. This resolution means that governments around the world will actually institute policies and put money towards tropical diseases programs to change the predicament of the poorest communities.

For full coverage of the WHA resolution, visit the WHO’s Neglected tropical diseases page.

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About Amy Alabaster

Amy is a communications intern for the Global Network and the Sabin Vaccine Institute. Before joining Sabin, Amy worked as a writer for the NIH Research Matters publication and as an NIH Fellow for the Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research. She has an M.S. degree in biochemistry from the University of Arizona.

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