World unites to combat tropical diseases by 2020
Pharmaceutical companies and global health companies have announced a new, coordinated push to accelerate progress towards eliminating or controlling 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade.
Thirteen pharmaceutical companies, the United States, UK and U.A.E governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and other global health organisations pledged to work together with those countries affected by tropical diseases to bring a unique focus to defeating these diseases and to work together to improve the lives of the 1.4 billion people worldwide affected by NTDs, most of whom are among the world’s poorest.
In the largest coordinated effort to date to combat NTDs, the group announced that they would: sustain or expand existing drug donation programmes to meet demand through 2020; share expertise and compounds to accelerate research and development of new drugs; and provide more than US$785 million to support R&D efforts and strengthen drug distribution and implementation programmes. Partners also endorsed the “London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases,” in which they pledged new levels of collaborative effort and tracking of progress.
“Today, we have joined together to increase the impact of our investments and build on the tremendous progress made to date. This innovative approach must serve as a model for solving other global development challenges and will help millions of people build self-sufficiency and overcome the need for aid,” said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Gates Foundation announced a five-year, US$363 million commitment to support NTD product and operational research.
To guide the effort against NTDs, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently unveiled a new strategy, Accelerating work to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases – A roadmap for implementation, that sets targets for what can be achieved by the end of the decade.
“The efforts of WHO, researchers, partners, and the contributions of industry have changed the face of NTDs. These ancient diseases are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed. With the boost to this momentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade,” said Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO.
New commitments from partners will close the funding gap to eradicate Guinea worm disease and expedite progress toward the 2020 goals of elimination for lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, and control of soil-transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas disease and visceral leishmaniasis.