Category Archives: Global Development

New Support for NTDs to Drive Progress Forward

 

photo 1NTDs

This afternoon, global health leaders convened in Paris to discuss progress made in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The event, titled Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Conversation on Progress, coincided with the release of a new report highlighting gains over the past two years.

Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization; Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and several other expert panelists including Chris Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi;  Dr. Onésime Ndayishimiye, National Director of Burundi’s Neglected Tropical Disease & Blindness Control Program; and French Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Hon. Marisol Touraine, announced deepened commitments for efforts to control and eliminate the most common NTDs by 2020 — including a $120 million pledge from the World Bank, a new collaboration to combat soil-transmitted helminthes (STH) and accelerated research and development efforts lead by pharmaceutical companies in conjunction with nonprofits.

The broad reach and attention of today’s event signals the fact that controlling and eliminating NTDs is embraced by a global community of national leaders, policy makers and donors. In addition, there is broad recognition that addressing NTDs is a crucial component of eliminating poverty and achieving development goals.

Echoing this fact, Dr. Tim Evans, World Bank Director of Health, Nutrition and Population stated during the event that NTDs are major constraints to development and addressing them will boost shared prosperity.

As detailed in the Uniting to Combat NTDs report and score card, progress on NTDs has accelerated quickly over the past two years. Pharmaceutical companies are now meeting 100 percent of requests for drugs, and endemic countries taking ownership of NTD programs. To date, 74 countries – roughly two-thirds of all NTD-endemic countries – have now developed national plans to help guide their control and elimination efforts.

Of particular note, Nigeria and Ethiopia, two countries with high NTD burdens, made national commitments to end NTDs. Nigeria launched its master NTD plan in February with the goal of providing treatment to more than 60 million people annually over the next five years. Ethiopia, the country with the highest trachoma burden, launched its national plan in June 2013. Success in Nigeria and Ethiopia would significantly decrease the global burden of NTDs worldwide.

Pages from NTD Report Final (sm)These positive gains are cause for optimism, but challenges still remain. While the chart to the left (click to view larger) shows a steady increase in drug donation and delivery, only 36 percent of people in need received all the drugs they needed in 2012. Mobilizing more financial resources to support program implementation, doing more to leverage the value of donated drugs and increasing collaboration across sectors are just a few ways the global community can further accelerate progress.

While donors, pharmaceuticals and NGOs are an integral part of the solution, endemic countries will drive progress forward by continuing to develop, own and implement their programs in a sustainable way.

“I always believe in country ownership,” Dr. Margaret Chan said. “We’re here to support your efforts.”

We applaud the work done by endemic countries, NGOs, pharmaceutical companies, multilateral organizations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and look forward to the path towards 2020.

Click to view the event video and full report.

Feeling Optimistic on the 2nd Anniversary of the London Declaration for NTDs

 

Photo by Esther Havens

Photo by Esther Havens

Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) – the largest coordinated effort against NTDs to date. Since its launch, governments across the globe have committed to end NTDs and hundreds of millions of people have been treated for these diseases.  This week we’re recognizing the remarkable progress and momentum achieved since the formation of this global partnership where 13 pharmaceutical companies; the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates; Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; World Bank and other international organizations formed a global partnership to control and eliminate 10 NTDs by the end of the decade – a commitment that Sabin Vaccine Institute’s president Dr. Peter Hotez calls a “tipping point for the world’s poor.”

The London Declaration has served as a roadmap to improve the lives of the 1.4 billion people worldwide affected by NTDs, most of whom are among the world’s poorest. Since then,  regional committees, endemic and donor countries, NGO and pharmaceutical partners throughout the world committed to and prioritized controlling and eliminating NTDs. Eliminating NTDs is understood to be one of the most cost-effective and comprehensive ways to achieve development goals and eliminate poverty. While we still have a long way to go, measured progress has been made and we’re feeling optimistic about the route to 2020, and we know that with increased funds and political commitment, the number of people needlessly suffering from NTDs will decrease.

In Asia this past year:

  • 6 countries started the process to verify elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF) – an extremely painful and debilitating NTD
  • 6 countries reached the global target of deworming at least 75% of school-aged children
  •  India’s Joint Secretary in the Ministry on Health, Dr. Anshu Prakash, stated the country’s commitment to the controlling and eliminating of NTDs – an important announcement considering India bears 35% of the world’s burden for NTDs
  • Following the launch of the Regional Strategic Plans for WPRO and SEARO, more than 10 countries across Asia and the Pacific updated their national plans and renewed their commitment to end NTDs, and East Timor is preparing to launch its national program this year.

In Africa:

  • The Sixth Conference of African Union (AU) Ministers of Health (CAMH6) in April called for increased domestic investment in NTD control and elimination
  • The World Health Organization’s (WHO) 63rd Regional Committee for Africa meeting passed a regional strategic plan to accelerate achievements
  • Three African countries launched national integrated master NTD plans – Nigeria in February, Ethiopia in June and Uganda in September –  totaling more than 30 African countries with such plans.
  • This spring, we learned that Togo is soon to become the first sub-Saharan African country to eliminate LF

And in Latin America and the Caribbean:

While the progress in these regions is promising, more needs to be done by both endemic countries and partners. If we are to truly eliminate poverty and the diseases that perpetuate it, we need sustained support from all stakeholders: endemic countries, donors, regional and global committees, NGOs and more. As managing director of the Global Network, Dr. Neeraj Mistry, recently stated in an op-ed, NTD control and elimination efforts must also integrated into broader efforts to eliminate poverty and achieve global development goals:

“By including NTDs and specific targets in the post-2015 development agenda, we will support country-led efforts to reach control and elimination goals, improve the health and well-being of hundreds of millions of people, and accelerate progress in global poverty reduction.”

Ending the 10 most common NTDs by 2020 was an ambitious goal but the progress of the last two years proves the global community is up for the challenge, and will continue to fight until NTDs no longer exist.

How You Contributed to the Movement against NTDs in 2013 – and How We Can Do Even More

 

As 2013 comes to a close, we have reason to celebrate. END7 supporters helped treat entire communities of people suffering from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Honduras, Myanmar, and Kenya, and our partners have completed treatment programs for millions of people in other countries. We’re making progress in the fight against NTDs.

The hundreds of thousands of children, mothers, families and communities who benefit from NTD treatment motivate us to continue the fight; mothers like Alice who pray every day for the health of their families, and sisters like Neema who want to be healthy and free of parasites so they can play and learn with their siblings.

Watch our new video to see the people who are benefitting from our work. We want to say thank you for making a difference in their lives.

The effort to end NTDs includes a diverse group of global partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), national governments, pharmaceutical companies, corporations and individuals. Just this year, world leaders took notice and stood up for the 1.4 billion people suffering from NTDs.  The World Health Assembly, the African Union and the Organization of America States all made commitments to end NTDs. Governments across the world made national plans to end NTDs within their own countries — and when so many END7 supporters spoke out on behalf of those suffering from  NTDs, the United Nations responded with a letter stating that the fight against NTDs is “paramount to the global efforts to eradicate poverty.”

We’ve come a long way, but we can do even more in 2014 with your help. We’re ready to expand our efforts next year and reach even more communities in more countries. Your donations help deliver medicine to hard to reach places, train healthcare workers to administer treatment, educate people about NTDs, prepare for annual pill distributions and help communities take ownership of their own treatment programs.

If we want to improve the health of the most marginalized communities, enhance economic performance and contribute to broader development goals, we need to press on in the fight against NTDs. Will you stand with us? Donate, share our video or start your own campaign to amplify our efforts and improve the lives of those who need it most.

Political Action Needed to Eliminate Neglected Infectious Diseases in the Western Hemisphere

 

Photo by Olivier Asselin

Photo by Olivier Asselin

By Ambassador Donald J. Planty

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) have made impressive economic, political and social strides since the “Lost Decade” of the 1980s.  Economies are more developed and diversified, education and health are improving, democratic systems are more prevalent and more people are moving into the middle class. Despite this economic and political progress, the region still faces enormous challenges.  Too many people are poor, income distribution is skewed and governments do not invest enough in education and health.  Without providing for more educated and healthier populations, countries are automatically putting the brakes on creating more equitable societies in the future.

This is particularly the case in health and manifests itself in the devastating consequences of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that are felt every day in the lives of more than 200 million people in LAC.

What Are NTDs and Why Are They Important?

NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that afflict 1.4 billion people around the world, the majority of whom live on less than US $1.25 per day.  NTDs are considered diseases of “neglected people” because they primarily affect the most marginalized communities, who often live in remote areas and have little voice in national affairs.  Control and elimination of these diseases are critical to a society’s well being.

NTDs disproportionately burden women and children and can cause blindness, disfigurement, disability, severe malnutrition and anemia.  If left untreated, NTDs can impair physical and cognitive development and can lead to adverse pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight.  These diseases also take a toll on mental health and diminish human and social capital since people suffering from NTDs are often stigmatized and isolated.

NTDs are an obstacle to economic development, resulting in billions of dollars in lost wages and decreased economic productivity. When parents or other family members are infected with or disabled by NTDs, children often have to take on chores, work outside the home and other responsibilities that keep them from going to school.

The burden of NTDs on social, economic, and human development in LAC is largely hidden from political leaders and policymakers.

What about Resources?

The good news is that controlling and eliminating NTDs in Latin America and the Caribbean is achievable. Cost effective, proven interventions are available.  The Pan American Health Organization has partnered with the Inter-American Development Bank and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseasesto launch a major effort to fight NTDs in LAC.

For as little as 50 cents per person per year, we can prevent and treat the most common intestinal parasites in Central America.  The majority of the necessary treatments for NTDs are either donated or available at an extremely low-cost, making the prevention, treatment and elimination of NTDs a ‘best buy’ in global health.  Furthermore, by coupling deworming with access to clean water, proper sanitation and hygiene education currently ongoing in many countries, intestinal worm infections can be drastically reduced.

The Central America region is currently on track to controlling and eliminating neglected infectious diseases 2015; however, additional resources—both technical and financial—are necessary to scale up deworming to meet coverage levels recommended by the World Health Organization. A commitment of US$5 million over 5 years would ensure an integrated, comprehensive approach to soil transmitted helminthes (STH) control in Central America.

Building on the region’s strong history of implementing successful programs to defeat polio, measles and rubella, Central American countries are now well poised to address the treatment gap for children affected by intestinal parasites. Together, with heightened political will and deepened commitment by key partners and people affected, we can truly end the neglect of these diseases.

Donors from around the world have also increased their commitments in response to the renewed efforts of endemic countries.  The largest partnership to date, the London Declaration on NTDs, was announced in January 2012, by pharmaceutical companies, bilateral aid agencies, and other public and private sector partners.  These partners pledged to work together to control or eliminate 10 NTDs by 2020 by increasing drug donations, research and development, and bilateral support for NTD programs around the world. With the new and existing pledges totalled, companies committed an average of 1.4 billion treatments each year to those in need, but unfortunately, few South American countries have applied to request support.

Continue reading