Time for NTDs to Emerge from the Shadows

More and more, leaders from endemic and donor countries alike are recognizing the importance of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). NTDs, the most common diseases of the world’s poor, are on the agenda for this week’s G7 summit in Germany, where leaders from the G7 countries, along with representatives from the European Union and leaders from six African countries, will discuss key issues of economic, foreign, security and development policy.

At the World Health Assembly last month in Geneva, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that NTDs will be a top priority for the group, stating, “With relatively little material effort, the suffering of hundreds of millions of people could be combated.” Merkel also stressed the importance of close collaboration with affected countries.

The G7’s support will hopefully result in a much-needed boost to investment in NTD treatment and prevention efforts, and certainly raise the global profile of NTDs. The G7’s influence could be instrumental, as well, in ensuring that specific indicators for NTDs are incorporated into the United Nations post-2015 development framework and the final Sustainable Development Goals.

Established more than 15 years ago, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set out measurable accomplishments to improve the world by 2015. Despite crippling health effects and evidence that NTDs perpetuate poverty, hunger and poor education outcomes, NTDs were lumped into MDG 6 under “other diseases,” lacking specific indicators to measure success or rally sufficient resources.

As the MDG deadline nears and the Sustainable Development Goals are finalized, an important opportunity presents itself to set clear mileposts for NTDs that were missing from the MDGs, catapult support for NTD programs, and help lift millions of the world’s most neglected people out of poverty. Watch our video to see why this is so important: