Category Archives: NTDs

Rational Strategies with Heart – A Reflection on Uniting to Combat NTDs: A Conversation on Progress


This is a guest post from Angelica Belli*

NTDs eventWhat drives us forward is a combination of heart and head.” –Bill Gates, April 2nd

 As a Human Rights and Humanitarian Action Masters student specializing in global health and African studies, having the opportunity to listen first hand to some of the actors that are so often subject of my studies was a particularly exciting experience, which further enhanced my eagerness to explore the field of NTDs.

Sitting in a semicircle in front of me were Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tim Evans, Director of Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank, Jamie Cooper-John, Chair of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Dr Onésine Ndayishimiye, National Director of the Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program in Burundi and Christopher A. Viehbacher, CEO of Sanofi.

Through their discussion, I was able to reflect upon the role of pharmaceutical companies in the effort to fight NTDs. While pharmaceutical companies need to make a profit to finance most of their activities, it is promising to see them acknowledging the need of those suffering from NTDs.

Companies like Sanofi are modifying their business plans to enable the disadvantaged to receive the NTD treatment they need at more affordable prices. Sanofi has made admirable efforts in this fight, committing itself for ten years to the provision of free drugs for neglected illnesses such as sleeping sickness.

In addition to Sanofi’s commitments, I was also pleased to hear that the French government reaffirmed their commitment to ending NTDs.  I hope that the French government will help people across the developing world gain access to treatments donated by Sanofi and other pharmaceutical companies.

Overall, the event was quite general, and I would have appreciated a deeper focus on the challenges faced rather than mainly on the achieved objectives. It was through the Q&A that some thought-provoking obstacles were raised.

Firstly, money is not the sole requisite. As Mr. Viehbacher and Mr. Gates pointed out, the main issue is no longer the availability of medicines, but access to patients. People in remote areas of the developing world are often not easily reachable due to poor infrastructure and weak health systems. It will be interesting to see what solutions are found to tackle this issue.

Secondly, even though the generosity of both public and private actors has led to improved health conditions for thousands, it raises the question as to whether donations are sustainable and if so, for how long. Local governments will have to step in eventually, empowering their people and making decent health care accessible. How these major global health actors will contribute to this necessary transformation is yet to be seen.

As long as there is a bit of heart complementing rational strategies, the empowerment of the most marginalized communities can be a reasonable expectation. As a global health student, I hope this will soon be the case.

To get involved in the fight against NTDs, visit

 *Angelica Belli, Italian-British, grew up in Italy and attended university in the UK, graduating from Warwick University in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2013; current Human Rights and Humanitarian Action Master student at Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs, with concentrations in Global Health and African Studies.

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Conversation on Progress



Two years ago, global health leaders convened in London to hold the most significant international meeting on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in history. The event galvanized major commitments from a diverse set of partners to eliminate or control 10 NTDs by 2020 – these commitments are now known as the London Declaration.

This Wednesday on April 2nd, The Global Network will once again join this unique group of partners to discuss progress toward the promises made in 2012.

Since the London Declaration on NTDs, The US, UK, and the World Bank have deepened their commitments, and NTDs are now being prioritized in global health and development agendas. In addition, control, prevention and research efforts for NTDs have expanded.

The London declaration also sparked new collaboration between public and private partners. These partnerships are identifying innovative, concrete solutions for delivering good health and strong economic futures to the world’s poorest people.

The progress we’ve seen since 2012 is also due in large part to the work of endemic countries in drafting and implementing national NTD plans. Through their national plans, countries burdened by NTDs are funding and driving their own solutions.

We invite you to tune into a live webcast of the April 2nd event in Paris. You’ll hear from Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization, along with other distinguished panelists.

Feel free to tweet about the event using the hashtag #NTD progress. The live webcast will run from 12:00 to 1:30 EST. To tune in, click here.

Un-neglecting the Neglected


From March 4th to 6th, 2014, The Ministry of Finance ran the “budget jam”; an online interactive session where they welcomed Nigerian Youth to discuss the 2014 budget and suggest new investment areas. This is a revised excerpt of a post sent in by Uzoma Nwankwo to the #budget2014jam.

In January 2012 the Federal Government partially removed subsidies on petroleum products. The accrued savings are shared annually among the three tiers of government (Federal, State and Local). The Subsidy Re-Investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) was established to invest these savings to “better the lives of ordinary Nigerians” through, provision of social safety net programmes and transport infrastructure.

In 2014, SURE-P will re-invest a total of 268.37 billion Nigerian Naira ($1.68 billion). 27.32 billion Nigerian Naira ($170.8 million) of this will be invested in health related social safety nets for Nigeria’s poor through the “Saving One Million Lives Initiative”. The health programmes to benefit include: Maternal & Child Health, HIV/AIDS, Polio Eradication, Non communicable Diseases-Stroke. This is a “healthy” development, which shows that the Federal Government recognises the link between disease and poverty

Unfortunately, the Government has missed a major opportunity to accelerate the fight against poverty by not allocating SURE-P funds for the control and elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). Perhaps the board of SURE-P, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy (CME) and Minister of Finance; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala may wish to know NTDs are worth investing in.

NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial infections that are the most common infections of the world’s poor. Nigeria has the highest burden of NTDs in the African continent. In fact, they are so common that we are likely to have everyday encounters with individuals affected by one or more NTDs.

Have you ever seen a child leading an older blind man (possibly caused by River blindness or Blinding Trachoma) begging on the streets for alms? Or an individual with huge disfigured limbs from elephantiasis? Are you aware of the painful plight of our children who pass blood in urine from bilharzias infection causing ridicule from society; who call them “menstruating boys”?

Only recently the current administration gave the final push to ensure Nigeria achieved a feat that was almost unthinkable in the 1980s; eliminating Guinea worm Disease (an NTD). Nigeria had the most cases globally at the time, but succeeded in eliminating GWD before many other countries. The right thing to do is to sustain this momentum on other NTDs.

As a country we cannot just watch and see our citizens suffer from debilitating conditions that are completely preventable, especially when inexpensive strategies exist to tackle these NTDs. The Federal Government should know that they have the unique decision making power that can enable Nigeria to significantly reduce its NTDs burden within five years.

I look at the SURE-P funds and I see hope for the common man. We stand a chance for success if the CME, the go-getter that she is, can target these NTDs for elimination as a true testament of the Government’s commitment to provide a social safety net for the poor. SURE-P targeted re-investments would make a monumental difference in the lives of all Nigerians burdened by NTDs. The opportunity to invest in the NTDs still exists, SURE-P need not wait until 2015 to rescue poor Nigerians from the cycle of poverty and disease.

New Manuals on NTDs for WASH Practitioners



Over 50 country-specific versions as well as a global version of “WASH and the Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Manual for WASH Implementers” are available to download at

By Courtney McGuire

Courtney McGuire works with Children Without Worms and the International Trachoma Initiative, and is one of the authors of “WASH and the NTDs: A Manual for WASH Practitioners.”

Saturday, March 22 is World Water Day—an important occasion not just for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, but for the neglected tropical disease (NTD) sector as well. Without WASH, we won’t be able to defeat NTDs such as soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and Guinea worm. Now, efforts to better coordinate the work of both sectors have new support with resources such as the WASH/NTD toolkit now available on

The toolkit—which includes “WASH and the NTDs: A Manual for WASH Implementers,” an upcoming e-course, and the website–is designed to give WASH practitioners essential knowledge about how their work impacts NTDs. With this knowledge, WASH organizations can better target their activities to communities where NTDs occur, as well as demonstrate the impact of WASH on disease outcomes to help mobilize greater investment in WASH.

There is a growing recognition within the NTD community that WASH must be a part of the planning and implementation process for NTD control efforts. With this toolkit, both the WASH and NTD sectors can explore new opportunities for cross-sectoral partnerships and coordination at the implementation level.

One example of successful WASH/NTD collaboration highlighted in the toolkit comes from Ethiopia, where ORBIS, an eye care organization, and WaterAid worked together to combat blinding trachoma. ORBIS recognized the need to work with WASH partners to implement the SAFE strategy to combat the blinding disease trachoma – which stands for Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Cleanliness, and Environmental Improvement. In order to help implement the F and E components of the strategy, ORBIS reached out to WaterAid Ethiopia to implement WASH activities in Gama Gafa zone in 2007. A multi-year agreement to bring WASH services to targeted communities has resulted in WASH access increasing from around 4 percent to over 92 percent in target districts as well as reduced levels of infection with trachoma.

In addition to featuring helpful case studies of WASH/NTD collaboration such as this, the toolkit provides techniques and practical materials useful for coordinating on joint monitoring, advocacy, and implementation. Over 50 country-specific versions of the manual are available, allowing users to access maps and specific information about the NTDs that occur in their countries of practice.

The toolkit itself represents an extensive collaborative effort between the WASH and NTD sectors. In December 2012, a diverse group of academics, practitioners, advocates, researchers, and organizations from both sectors came together for a two-day WASH/NTD roundtable discussion at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The discussion led to the production of a framework that would guide the toolkit’s development, which was undertaken by the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and Children Without Worms (CWW), and funded by the Sightsavers Innovation Fund with support from the  UK government. Numerous organizations from both the WASH and NTD sectors contributed content and feedback to the effort.

On this World Water Day, we invite you to visit, and to contribute to the conversation by tweeting your stories of collaboration @WASH_NTDs. Together we can work towards a world where clean, safe water is abundant for drinking and hygiene, where sanitation services are available for everyone—a world where no one suffers from NTDs.


The NTD and WASH Index Map is a simple way to visualize areas with low WASH coverage and high levels of NTDs, including soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis and Guinea worm. Lighter colors indicate higher WASH access and fewer NTDs. Darker colors indicate a country has lower WASH access and more NTDs. Visit for more information about how this map was developed and to view the data underlying the map.