Celebrating a Landmark Moment for Neglected Tropical Diseases
The first World NTD Day, on 30 January 2020, kicks off a pivotal year in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
This week we are celebrating the first World NTD Day, which falls on the 30 January 2020, and the eighth anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs. This will be the first time partners working on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) worldwide will celebrate progress together, as well as raise awareness for the long way still to go to eliminate these debilitating diseases. At CIFF, we will join the celebration with a social media advocacy campaign, sharing highlights of our programmes and strategy. We wish to see increased country leadership and ownership, cross-sector collaboration between health and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes, and innovative business models to ensure long-term sustainability – and, ideally, show that these diseases can be effectively eliminated by using a combination of the above.
NTDs mostly affect poor and neglected populations living in tropical areas, those with the least access to healthcare, safe water and sanitation. These diseases include trachoma (a bacterial eye infection), intestinal worms (soil-transmitted helminths – STH – and schistosomiasis – SCH), Guinea worm (or dracunculiasis), and a variety of other conditions. These diseases first gained global attention in 2012, when a group of governments, donors, non-governmental organisations and pharmaceutical companies all came together to sign the London Declaration on NTDs, a multilateral commitment to control, eliminate and eradicate ten priority NTDs by 2020. Later that year, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Roadmap for NTDs 2012-2020. NTDs were in the limelight again last October, when the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Sciences celebrated experimental work to alleviate global poverty, which included mass deworming programmes to improve children’s health and school performance.
At CIFF, we support a number of large investments that aim to eliminate and eradicate NTDs, which tend to disproportionately affect children and their mothers or carers. We have supported the Indian and Ethiopian National Deworming Programmes since 2015, which deliver millions of deworming tablets for STH (and SCH in Ethiopia) every year – in India alone, over 400 million tablets were delivered to children and teenagers during last year’s National Deworming Days. We backed the development of the Breaking Transmission Strategy for Kenya in 2019, and we are breaking ground in Ethiopia with the innovative Geshiyaro programme, where we will attempt to break transmission of STH and SCH infections (i.e. stop the spread of disease) in a population of nearly 2 million people.
We are supporting the audacious AcceleraTE programme led by Sightsavers, which will push a number of African countries through the final hurdles of trachoma elimination, and the Ethiopian government to clear the backlog of trachoma surgeries in the country, a programme we call Operation Sight. Last but not least, we have supported The Carter Center in their decades-long fight towards Guinea Worm Eradication since 2012 - only 53 human cases were reported globally in 2019, but the end might still be far away.
We look forward to supporting our partners and grantees this week in raising awareness of these debilitating diseases and working towards their elimination, so that children and women everywhere can live a healthier and happier life. Together, we will beat NTDs. For good, for all.