Category Archives: Global Development

NTDS Take the Stage at the Social Good Summit


(from right to left) Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network; David Harris, executive creative director of Draftfcb in London; and Peter Koechley, co-founder of Upworthy, present at the Social Good Summit in New York City

(from right to left) Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network; David Harris, executive creative director of Draftfcb in London; and Peter Koechley, co-founder of Upworthy, present at the Social Good Summit in New York City.


“We have a wonderful public-private partnership with the pharmaceutical industry who are donating all the drugs, and we have great technical experts that actually help to ensure that these drugs get to the people that require them. So now we need to create the movement to ensure that it’s seeded in the public consciousness, and that enables us to influence policy and get more money for the cause for essentially a voiceless community.” – Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, at the Social Good Summit

Yesterday, at the Social Good Summit (SGS) in New York City, the Global Network had a phenomenal opportunity to join innovative and inspiring leaders in technology, media and policy from all over the world to discuss how we can accelerate progress on development issues such as poverty, education, equal rights, girls and women, and climate change by 2030.

We were honored to be part of that fascinating conversation hosted by the 92 Street Y, Mashable, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, by speaking on a panel, “Is shock value a way to spur social good?” Our presenters, Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network; David Harris, executive creative director of Draftfcb in London; and Peter Koechley, co-founder of Upworthy, shared how our END7 “Celebrity Shocker” video relied on raw emotion, celebrity engagement, social media – and of course shock value – to catapult awareness for NTDs and prompt thousands of people to take action.

Neeraj began by talking about the two ways in which people essentially react: emotionally and rationally. On the one hand, people react with their guts, knowing how they feel about something immediately. Conversely, sometimes people react slowly about something and are able to make calculated decisions in response. With this in mind, Neeraj explained, the Global Network “decided to fight the [NTD] cause on both fronts.”

Only minutes into the panel, we discovered very few people in the audience actually knew about NTDs and how they afflict over a billion people worldwide, most of whom live on less than $1.25 a day. In fact, just a few hands out of hundreds of people went up when Neeraj asked about their familiarity with them!

"How to Shock a Celebrity" plays in front of the audience

“How to Shock a Celebrity” plays in front of the audience

So, just as we introduced NTDs to hundreds of thousands of people earlier this year with our END7 “Celebrity Shocker” video, we grabbed people’s attention at SGS by playing the video for them. What we saw and heard was so moving – and quite telling: gasps, hands over people’s mouths, jaws dropping and sheer sadness on their faces.

David then provided insights about the creative process behind END7 and our PSA. He explained, “Our biggest challenge was that these aren’t very user friendly images to put in front of a public. And our challenge was really that no one knows what these diseases are.” The key for him, therefore, was to “create a little bit of suspense and engagement” that would build empathy and emotions “that connect us and drive us to do something.”

Though END7 has an ambitious goal – seeing the end of the seven most common NTDs in seven years (by 2020) – it’s actually possible. As David said, “the really shocking thing is that there’s a cure for such a small amount of money.” For just 50 cents, we can treat and protect one person per year with a packet of pills donated by the pharmaceutical industry. “The idea is that anyone, in their small way, can contribute to the campaign,” David noted, and that we can all help alleviate widespread suffering and poverty caused by these horrific diseases with just a simple, small donation.

As Peter described, a successful public awareness campaign for any organization isn’t just about the creative assets, it’s also very much about the strategy behind sharing them, building an audience and encouraging people to act on what they’ve seen.

“The type of emotion matters,” Peter said, noting that a goal of campaigns should be to spur emotions that “get people to sit forward in your chair to do something.” These include outrage, shock, happiness and inspiration. Peter and others at Upworthy felt compelled to share the video because it not only hit on these powerful points but also that “if [treatment is] just 50 cents…we can help a few hundred thousand more people see this and help make a difference.”

Wrapping up the discussion, Neeraj noted that tackling NTDs is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions out there today. And, because NTDs are linked to many of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), if we address them, we can make improvements to many of the challenges other SGS presenters highlighted, such as water and sanitation, access to education, and maternal and child health.

“We see the END7 campaign as a vehicle to actually raise attention to these [neglected] communities, and once we mainstream that in our collective consciousness, like every movement, we’ll be able to tackle this issue.”

Thank you again to the Social Good Summit for inviting us to be part of this innovative and thought-provoking global discussion! We were inspired by so many presenters, including Malala, Magatte Wade, Barbara Bush, and so many others, and we look forward to seeing the resulting impact in the coming years!

Join us by learning more at and watching the panel below. Together, we can see the end.

Global Network Special Envoys Generate Global Momentum for NTD Treatment


NTD special envoy President Alvaro Arzú speaks at an event on NTDs

NTD special envoy President Alvaro Arzú speaks at an event on NTDs

The Global Network’s special envoys for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are using their political voice and technical expertise to get NTDs on the United Nation’s global development agenda to end poverty.

Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen, former president of Guatemala; John A. Kufuor, former president of Ghana; Ricardo Lagos Escobar, former president of Chile; and Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, director of the Pan American Health Association, emphasized the need to include NTDs in the United Nations post-2015 development framework in a letter sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Together they write:

“The plain fact is that the control and elimination of NTDs is crucial to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and deserves explicit mention in the final framework of the post-2015 development agenda.”

The envoys also emphasize the severe and negative impacts NTDs have on some of the most marginalized communities worldwide.

“As you may know, poverty reduction and the elimination of NTDs go hand-in-hand. NTDs afflict 1.4 billion people worldwide, including more than 500 million children. They cause blindness, massive swelling in appendages and limbs, severe malnutrition, and anemia. They are a leading cause of pregnancy complications among women and are a key source of poverty, reducing school attendance and learning capabilities among children and worker productivity for adults. “

The special envoys also recognize NTD treatment as one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce poverty.

“For a cost of approximately USD 50 cents per person per year, effective treatment for the seven most common NTDs can be administered, making NTD control programs one of the most cost-effective interventions available in global health today.”

This important letter adds to the momentum generated by the London Declaration, where leaders from pharmaceutical companies, the U.S, UK and United Arab Emirates, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, and other global health organizations announced their support for eliminating 10 NTDs by 2020. Since the declaration, governments and international institutions have been recognizing the need for increased NTD funding, awareness and political will.

To read the full letter, click here.

To send your own message to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, click here.

We Need Your Voice: Now’s the Time to Tell World Leaders to End NTDs


700x700UN_Secretary-General_END7As September quickly approaches, world leaders are gearing up for the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) where they’ll discuss how to improve the lives of the billion people on the planet living in extreme poverty. These poor and neglected populations represent those suffering from devastating and disfiguring neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

We know that treating NTDs is a catalyst for achieving broader development goals, especially those outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This is why I’ve written a letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urging him to prioritize NTDs as part of his strategy to reduce poverty and inequality worldwide.

This is where you come in: By adding your name to my letter, our message will be amplified. Will you send a message to Ban Ki-moon now on behalf of the billion people suffering from NTDs? 

NTDs perpetuate a cycle of poverty that continues from generation to generation. These diseases directly affect nutrition, school attendance and the development of children. Even more, they undercut economic growth and increase the likelihood of contracting other harmful diseases like HIV.

But if we act now, we can persuade the world’s governments to help the world’s most neglected people by resolving to eliminate NTDs once and for all.

Ban Ki-moon has said “eradicating extreme poverty continues to be one of the main challenges of our time.” However, we know that poverty cannot be solved as long as one in six people are living with NTDs.

But there is good news: The medicine to treat NTDs is cheap, safe, available and life-changing. Even more, global momentum is growing to treat and prevent NTDs. The recent report issues by the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda placed NTDs alongside the most pressing global health issues, such as preventing maternal and child deaths; HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.

Together we can elevate funding, research and political will for NTD treatment. Will you be a part of this success story?

Add your name here and pass it on. Together we can see the end of 7 NTDs.

A Minute with NTD expert: Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer of the END Fund

END Fund logo

At the recent “Uniting to Combat NTDs: Translating the London Declaration into Action,” we had a chance to catch up with Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer of the END Fund. The END Fund is a private philanthropic fund mobilizing resources for neglected tropical diseases in Africa.

Global Network: What does it take for exposed individuals to fight NTDs?

Ellen Agler: When I was in Mali, I also got a chance to see in addition to the mass drug administration other aspects of the program. There is a huge backlog of trichiasis surgery. Blinding trachoma, if it starts advancing, it is incredibly painful… It feels like sand going over your cornea, and you will go blind if you don’t get this surgery in the advanced stages.

And to see how simple of a surgery it was- that it really only took 10 or 15 minutes. [END Fund] do have this incredible message of about 50 cents per person per year can protect you against these seven diseases that cause disability, cause suffering, cause blindness, and really change the trajectory of your life. And that is a simple message, and I think that we’re all rallying to ensure that we can prevent these diseases, we can treat them in the early stage so that no one has to suffer those diseases.

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