In an effort to give greater visibility to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and the one billion people affected by them, three of the Global Network Special Envoys, H.E. Alvaro Arzú Irigoyen, H.E. John A Kufuour and Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, wrote a upcoming intergovernmental negotiations.
The Global Network is very grateful to have such prestigious global health champions advocating on behalf of the 1.4 billion people who suffer from NTDs. In their letter, the Envoys encourage the Secretary General to recognize the importance of clearly identifying NTDs as a public health priority in order to unlock the economic and social potential of more than one billion people living in marginalized communities around the world.
NTDs are parasitic and bacterial infections that can cause impaired childhood growth and development, poor pregnancy outcomes, blindness and crippling physical disfigurements, as well as an increased likelihood of contracting HIV, thwarting opportunities for social progress and economic growth.
Even though NTDs were included in the Outcome Document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals (OWG) in 2014, they are not specifically mentioned in the Synthesis Report. The Special Envoys urge the inclusion of NTDs in the final post-2015 development agenda and the corresponding sustainable development goals and indicators in order to give increased visibility to the people affected by these diseases. We have achieved impressive results in our efforts to control and eliminate NTDs over the past decade, however, both donor and endemic country governments must commit additional resources if NTDs are to be eliminated.
As the window to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) closes this year and we grow closer to finalizing the development goals that will shape the next 15 years, world leaders have an excellent opportunity to ensure that people suffering from preventable diseases have access to free and lifesaving medicines and are able to productively contribute to their communities.