Help Us Protect U.S. Funding for NTDs – a Cause Worth the Investment

 

In January, we celebrated the largest increase in U.S. funding for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) since 2010.  Yet the party was cut short by the disappointing news that President Obama’s FY15 budget request recommended cutting NTD funding by more than 13%, down to just $86.5 million. Considering the great strides the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) NTD Program has made in improving health around the world, cutting funding now would be a huge mistake.

Will you help protect U.S. funding for NTD programs? Send a letter now.

Investing in NTDs is a smart, cost-effective way to boost the health and economic prosperity of millions of people worldwide. Global health is a fraction of one percent of the federal $1.012 trillion budget – and the budget for NTDs is even smaller. But this tiny amount has a huge impact.

Capture_chart

InterAction, an alliance of nonprofits, emphasized this point in their annual Choose to Invest report – a publication which provides members of Congress with funding recommendations for U.S. foreign assistance programs based on experience from the field. Under the leadership of the Global Network and others in the NTD community, InterAction recommended that the U.S. program for NTDs be funded at $125 million in FY15.

Sahr Gando, a miner from Sierra Leone

Sahr Gando, a miner from Sierra Leone

An increase in funding for NTDs means effective programs, like this one in Sierra Leone, will continue to run. Last year, the USAID NTD Program, together with partners, assisted Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health in providing almost half a million people in the country, including Sahr Gando, with life-saving medicines. After receiving treatment, Sahr Gando was able to go back to work and support his family – a task which may have been impossible if treatment never arrived.

Together, we can ensure NTD programs like the one in Sierra Leone are protected – or even improved.

END7 recently launched a campaign to protect NTD funding. Click here to send a letter to Congresswomen Granger and Lowey—longtime advocates of NTDs and leaders of the House appropriations subcommittee that focuses on global health and foreign assistance funding―to thank them for their continued support for NTD programs and urge them to maintain or even increase funding for NTDs in FY15.

Thanks for taking a stand with us.

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.

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Conversation on Progress

 

UnitingToCombatNTDs_BANNER_ShareGraphic

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.