With the support of the U.S. Congress, the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) neglected tropical disease (NTD) Program, has supported countries to deliver more than half a billion NTD treatments in just six years, reaching cumulatively more than 250 million people in 20 countries. Leveraging unprecedented donations of medicines by pharmaceutical companies, global neglected tropical disease (NTD) partnerships are supporting countries around the world to control and eliminate these diseases.
The United States today is joining more than 40 nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, global health and civil society organizations to hail historic progress, celebrate champions, and underscore continuing challenges in the global fight against diseases affecting the world’s poorest and most marginal populations.
NTDs are caused by a range of worms, bacteria and parasites with hard-to-pronounce names such as schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis and onchocerciasis. They disproportionately impact poor and rural populations who lack access to safe water, adequate sanitation, and health care. These diseases can kill and frequently impair, blind, or disfigure those they infect. NTDs devastate families and communities by hindering children’s mental and physical development, reducing school performance and attendance, and limiting economic productivity in adults who become blind or too sick to work, thereby keeping families in a continuous cycle of poverty. Due to their primary role as caretakers of children, women are more commonly affected than men, suffering from NTDs like trachoma which causes pain and blindness during the most productive years of life. And certain NTDs, like Chagas disease and sleeping sickness, are potentially fatal without treatment.
“To date, USAID’s NTD program is the largest public-private partnership collaboration in our 50 year history,” states Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Global Health Bureau. “Over the past six years, USAID has leveraged over $3 billion in donated medicines reflecting one of the most cost effective public health programs. Because of this support, we are beginning to document control and elimination of these diseases in our focus countries and we are on track to meet the 2020 goals.”
Global partnerships have been instrumental to the efforts of governments and others who work together to create new medicines, get the drugs to the communities that need them, and enlist local support to ensure appropriateness of proposed interventions. Our work is making a large-scale, cost-effective contribution to the global effort to reduce the burden of NTDs.
All partners are committed to sustaining or expanding existing drug donation programs; accelerating research and development of new drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics; and strengthening drug distribution and implementation programs in disease-endemic countries.