A remarkable new bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week that has the potential to help turn the tide in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), the “End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act” already enjoys bi-partisan support from co-sponsors Reps. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Greg Meeks (D-NY).
The End Neglected Diseases Act was sparked by last year’s Subcommittee hearing on “testimony from Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and other NTD experts.
The legislation takes a wide approach to supporting the control and eliminate of NTDs, both in the U.S. and abroad. If passed, the bill would expand USAID’s NTD Program to target more diseases and better integrate programs, direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to research the impact of NTDs in the U.S. and require U.S. policymakers to advocate for increased NTDs efforts among international institutions such as the World Bank and United Nations. The bill will also create one or more NTD centers of excellence and establish a panel on intestinal worm infections to encourage increased R&D for tools to diagnose, prevent, treat and control NTDs.
The End Neglected Diseases Act would be a great compliment to the U.S. government’s ongoing efforts to fight these diseases and help to fill the remaining global treatment gaps. Since the launch of USAID’s NTD Program in fiscal year 2006, the program has exceeded expectations by delivering more than one billion treatments to nearly 468 million people, leveraging $6.7 billion worth of donated medicines across 25 developing countries. However, there is still much work to be done to achieve the World Health Organization’s NTD control and elimination goals by 2020; this new piece of legislation could play a significant role in achieving these goals.
Please click here to read more about the bill, including reactions from experts at the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Global Network.
Look out for our upcoming advocacy action next week