Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, a partnership of foundations, global health organizations, and pharmaceutical companies, has announced new commitments totaling $812 million to fight neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) globally.
Announced at the partnership's summit in Geneva, pledges include $335 million over four years from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in support of a wide range of programs focused on drug development and delivery, disease surveillance, and vector control. The foundation's commitment includes $42 million for a guinea worm eradication initiative led by the Carter Center, as well as dedicated funding to accelerate the elimination of African sleeping sickness. Over the next three years the foundation also will match the Belgian government's pledge of $27 million over nine years toward the elimination of African sleeping sickness in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Earlier this week, the UK government announced plans to more than double its funding for efforts to control and eliminate NTDs, to nearly $450 million over five years.
Launched in 2012 to bolster the World Health Organization's efforts to control, eliminate, and eradicate ten NTDs, the partnership has been supported by the END Fund, which has raised more than $75 million to date to target the five most common NTDs. In addition, countries such as Ethiopia, which has made significant progress in fighting trachoma, are increasing financing for NTD programs and integrating them into their national health systems, while pharmaceutical companies participating in the partnership reaffirmed their commitment to the initiative in a statement.
The summit coincided with the release of a WHO report, Integrating Neglected Tropical Diseases in Global Health and Development, which found that in 2015 nearly a billion people received treatments donated by pharmaceutical companies for at least one NTD, a 36 percent increase since 2011, while the number of people requiring treatments declined from two billion in 2010 to 1.6 billion in 2015. WHO estimates that new investments of $150 million a year through 2020 would be needed to reach three hundred and forty million people in sub-Saharan Africa.
"Over the last five years, I have been inspired and humbled by the private philanthropists who have joined us to invest in NTD," said END Fund CEO Ellen Agler. "Not only have they provided much needed capital for NTD programs, but many have become champions for the cause, involving their families and networks to ensure that together, we see an end to these diseases."