Friday, 27 January 2012

Uniting against NTDs to change lives for bottom billion

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Coalition against NTDs will host a meeting of influential international organisations and government representatives today (30 January) to discuss increased commitments to improve the lives of more than one billion people affected by a group of diseases known as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These diseases devastate the lives of some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world, together causing death, severe disability and stigma, resulting in billions of dollars of lost productivity.

The World Health Organization will present its roadmap for controlling, eliminating and eradicating NTDs. It outlines targets for addressing the health needs of the poverty-stricken communities affected by NTDs. All participating organisations share the common goal of working together in an innovative, flexible and cost efficient way to reach key milestones. These include wiping out Guinea worm disease by 2015, the global elimination of blinding trachoma and lymphatic filariasis by 2020, and the elimination of schistosomiasis and onchocerciasis in many African countries. The organisations attending are expected to demonstrate their shared commitment by endorsing the London Declaration on NTDs which will lay out the additional necessary resources and streamlined approaches needed to meet the WHO’s goals.

The UK Coalition against NTDs, a partnership between UK-based international organisations engaged in combating these diseases, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will co-host an afternoon discussion on this topic. Utilising the on-the-ground experience of its members, the coalition forms a key part of the in-depth session which looks at how new and better partnerships can help accelerate improvements in health and development for those living in the world’s poorest countries. It is essential that partners across, different sectors including health, education, water and sanitation and veterinary public health work collaboratively so that elimination can become a reality.

Caroline Harper, spokesperson for the UK NTD Coalition, says: “Treatments for some NTDs cost as little as US$0.50 per person, yet can deliver a 30 per cent return on investment. Despite this less than one per cent of development aid is allocated to these diseases.

“Without additional commitments, the WHO’s Roadmap for control, and elimination where possible, will be unachievable. It is therefore encouraging to see the pharmaceutical industry increasing their commitments. Today’s promises, spearheaded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and last week’s funding announcement by the UK government, are a defining moment, setting us on a powerful course towards the elimination of these diseases.

“The UK Coalition against NTDs will collaborate with other NGOs, governments, multilaterals, academia and private sector leaders to ensure that the commitments made today become a reality for more than one billion people affected.”

Other partners involved in the afternoon discussions include the World Bank, UK Department for International Development (DFID), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ministries of Health from endemic countries, the World Health Organization, the pharmaceutical industry and other donors.

For further media information, interviews with a coalition spokesperson, photos or case studies please contact Rachel Heald on 07985 424 084 or email

Notes to editors:
About the Event
The UK Coalition against NTDs is co-hosting, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an afternoon discussion at the London Royal College of Physicians on 30 January 2012 on the World Health Organisation’s initiative to eliminate NTDs. The in-depth session looks at how new and better partnerships can help accelerate improvements in health and development for those living in the world’s poorest countries.

About the UK Coalition against Neglected Tropical Diseases:
The UK Coalition against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) is a collaborative partnership between international organisations, based in the UK, actively engaged in the implementation, capacity building and research of neglected tropical disease control at scale. The coalition works with a number of global networks and campaigns including the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases Control (GNNTDC) which recently launch the END7Campaign to raise awareness of NTD elimination.

The Coalition is inclusive of organisations that are interested in NTDs. Founding members are:
  • Carter Centre UK works in close partnership with The Carter Center. The Carter Center advances global efforts to wage peace, fight disease, and build hope by engaging with those at the highest levels of government and civil society. Since 1986, The Carter Center has spearheaded the global Guinea worm eradication campaign. The Carter Centre UK supports the Center’s work by raising funds and increasing awareness in the United Kingdom and Europe.
  • Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The School has been involved in the study of infectious diseases in the tropics since its foundation over a century ago. It has an enviable record of achievement in the areas of research and capacity building in the neglected tropical diseases. These achievements include the descriptions of the basic biology of parasites and vectors, drug development, and support to country health programmes. The Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases was established recognizing the increased priority the School accords to NTDs.
  • Partnership for Childhood Development (PCD), Imperial College London, works to improve the health and nutrition of school-aged children across the globe. PCD in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action lead the Deworm the World (DtW) initiative that works directly with ministries of education and health to help launch, strengthen, and sustain school-based deworming programmes.
  • Schistosomosiasis Control Initiative (SCI), Imperial College London, supports national governments in Africa to deliver treatments against schistosomiasis (Bilharzia) and intestinal helminths (STH). SCI aims to increase coverage in each country to the national level and to expand into other countries until everyone in Africa who requires treatment has access to praziquantel and albendazole. In some countries SCI will support the full NTD control programme.
  • Sightsavers - an international development organisation working with partners to eliminate avoidable blindness and promote equality of opportunity for disabled people in the developing world. Sightsavers is a leading partner in the control of three of the neglected tropical diseases – trachoma, onchocerciasis and lymphatic filariasis, with several combined programmes now launched which treat other NTDs.