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New pledges to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) were made in Geneva, Switzerland this week as governments, pharmaceutical companies and charity organizations met to address the issues of NTDs. The Summit was held five years after the London Declaration on NTDs, a commitment by the public and private sectors to achieve the WHO goals for control, elimination and eradication of 10 NTDs.
The World Health Organization also launched it’s forth report on NTDs entitled “Integrating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Global Health and Development” that showed more people being reached with needed NTD interventions than ever before.
In 2015, nearly a billion people received treatments donated by pharmaceutical companies for at least one NTD, representing a 36 percent increase since 2011, the year before the launch of the London Declaration. As more districts, countries and regions eliminate NTDs, the number of people requiring treatments has decreased from 2 billion in 2010 to 1.6 billion in 2015.
“WHO has observed record-breaking progress towards bringing ancient scourges like sleeping sickness and elephantiasis to their knees. Over the past 10 years, millions of people have been rescued from disability and poverty, thanks to one of the most effective global partnerships in modern public health,” WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan stated.
Among several pledges, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation committed USD 335 million in grants over the next four years to support a diverse group of NTD programs focused on drug development and delivery, disease surveillance and vector control. The commitment includes USD 42 million to support The Carter Center’s guinea worm eradication initiative, as well as dedicated funding to accelerate the elimination of African sleeping sickness.
“NTDs are some of the most painful, debilitating and stigmatizing diseases and affect the world’s poorest communities. That’s why we helped launch the London Declaration, a historic milestone which led to significant progress in treating and reducing the spread of NTDs and demonstrated the impact that the public sector, the private sector, communities and NGOs can have by working together,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation stated.
“Thanks to this partnership, these neglected diseases are now getting the attention they deserve so fewer people have to suffer from these treatable conditions. There have been many successes in the past five years, but the job is not done yet. We have set ambitious targets for 2020 that require the continued commitment of pharmaceutical companies, donor and recipient governments, and frontline health workers to ensure drugs are available and delivered to the hardest to reach people,” he further stated during the summit.
In Ethiopia, 75 million people are living in trachoma-endemic areas, which is the largest number of any country in the world, according to trachomacoalition.org. Data shows that the backlog of people who urgently need eyelid surgery to prevent blindness stands at over 693,000 – again, the largest number of any country in the worldg