Category Archives: NTDs

West Wing Characters Learn Seven Facts about NTDs

In honor of NTD Awareness Week, and to rally for Thursday’s NTD Advocacy Day, we present the below listicle for your enjoyment.

1. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that affect the world’s poorest people. Without treatment, they can lead to lifelong disabilities and suffering. But NTD treatment programs struggle to find funding.

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2. The seven most common NTDs infect over one billion people, including half a billion kids, but it’s not all bad. It only costs 50 cents to treat and protect one person from seven NTDs for a whole year.

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3. The United States government — through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) NTD Program — is a leader in the effort to control and eliminate NTDs worldwide.

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4. Since the USAID NTD Program was launched in 2006, more than 1 billion NTD treatments have been delivered to 460 million people across 25 countries.

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5. Every $1 invested in the program has leveraged $26 in drug donations from pharmaceutical companies — a best buy in global health!
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6. The program’s budget is less than 1% of total U.S. spending on global health. But for the last three years, President Obama has suggested a $13.5 million cut to the program.

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7. END7 student supporters spent last spring urging Congress to protect and increase funding for NTD treatment. But the fight is not over. Send a message to President Bartlett Obama to show your support for the NTD budget!

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Join the END7 campaign to help NTDs. Advocate, fundraise, and spread the word to be part of the solution!

END7 is an international advocacy campaign run by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute. END7 is working to raise the awareness and funding necessary to control and eliminate the seven most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.

Tune in for a Live Chat on River Blindness

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On Friday, January 22 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. ET, NPR’s global development and health blog, Goats and Soda, will host a Twitter chat on river blindness with Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases. The chat follows two stories about river blindness from NPR correspondent Jason Beaubien.

Listen to the stories below, tweet your questions to @NPRGoatsandSoda with the hashtag #RiverBlindness, and tune in on January 22nd to participate in the discussion.

60-year-old Emmanuel Kwame first started to get sick with onchocerciasis, commonly known as river blindness, when he was in his 20s. His hometown of Asubende in central Ghana was hard hit by the disease. Of Kwame’s 12 siblings, six lost their eyesight. Read more.

Bondi Sanbark, the chief in Beposo 2, Ghana, says his village used to be full of blind men led around by boys — but that began to change after the Nobel prize-winning drug, Ivermectin, started being distributed.

Mass ivermectin campaigns are now treating roughly 4 million Ghanaians a year, or more than 15 percent of the population. And the strategy is paying off. No one has gone blind in Beposo 2 for years, says Sanbark. Read more.

Upholding Germany’s Historic Commitment to Poverty-Related and Neglected Diseases

by Peter J. Hotez and Neeraj Mistry

The German Bundestag has an opportunity to make unprecedented commitments toward the treatment and prevention of the world’s most common poverty-related diseases — a group of debilitating infections known as the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). They include ancient scourges linked to poverty such as elephantiasis, river blindness, blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis, roundworm, whipworm and hookworm. Today, these NTDs are among the most common afflictions of the poor, and almost every person living in abject poverty suffers from at least one NTD. New research has shown that these NTDs, because of their long-standing effects on the mental and physical health of children and adults but especially girls and women, now rank among the most important reasons why people cannot escape poverty in the “global south,” including Africa and the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.

A man receives medications to prevent neglected tropical diseases

Prince Marah takes ivermectin and albendazole at Levuma community health center in Levuma, Sierra Leone.

For more than 150 years, German science has provided leadership in tropical medicine that makes it possible today to discuss the eventual global elimination of the NTDs. Theodor Bilharz discovered the cause of schistosomiasis (also known as bilharziasis) while working in Egypt in the 1850s; Otto Henry Wucherer conducted studies in Brazil in the 1860s that helped discover Wuchereria bancrofti, which causes 90 percent or more of elephantiasis cases; and Arthur Looss at the turn of the 20th century co-discovered the cause of hookworm, also in Egypt.

Then, in 2005, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and the World Health Organization organized a landmark conference in Berlin to integrate the control and elimination of the most common NTDs by combining mass treatments for these diseases in a simple “rapid impact package” of medicines. Today those low-cost (less than one Euro per person annually) packages have reached at least 450 million people. As a result, we are now seeing major reductions in the global prevalence of elephantiasis, river blindness and blinding trachoma. Thus, a decade following that historic Berlin meeting, we have the opportunity to eliminate at least these three NTDs.

The Berlin conference also promoted the importance of research and development so that today new interventions are underway including a human hookworm vaccine now in clinical trials in Gabon through a European HOOKVAC Consortium that includes both the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s product development partnership and the Institut für Tropenmedizin, Universitätsklinikum Tübingen. In the 19th century, both Bilharz and Wucherer trained in Tübingen.

The German Bundestag now has a significant opportunity to build on these successes. New legislation to support non-profit product development partnerships to produce new drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines could create a new generation of ground breaking technologies for the world’s poverty related diseases. In parallel, Germany can join the governments of the United States and United Kingdom in supporting the delivery of low-cost rapid impact packages, now recognized as one of the most cost effective global health interventions known.

Earlier this year, Chancellor Angela Merkel also delivered a historic address to the World Health Assembly about the important role the Group of 7 (G7) nations could have in eliminating NTDs. Her call to the G7 to take on NTDs can now be backed with time-sensitive action. The German Bundestag should reassert its historic commitment to these diseases, in the research and development space and for mass treatment. In so doing, Germany can lead efforts to finish the job it began more than a century ago.

Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., is president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin), Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair for Tropical Pediatrics and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. He also serves as U.S. Science Envoy for the White House and State Department.

Neeraj Mistry, M.D., M.P.H., is managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of Sabin.