Organizations form global partnership to battle NTDs

For once, 13 is a lucky number as the U.S., U.K. and U.A.E. governments, 13 pharmaceutical companies, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and other global health organizations have announced a new coordinated effort to accelerate progress on the elimination or control of 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade.

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LONDON—For once, 13 is a lucky number as the U.S., U.K. andU.A.E. governments, 13 pharmaceutical companies, the Bill & Melinda GatesFoundation, the World Bank and other global health organizations have announceda new coordinated effort to accelerate progress on the elimination or controlof 10 neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade.
"Many companies and organizations have worked for decades to fight thesehorrific diseases," Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, said in a pressrelease on behalf of the participating companies. "But no one company ororganization can do it alone. Today, we pledge to work hand-in-hand torevolutionize the way we fight these diseases now and in the future."
Through the program, the partners will join with NTD-endemiccountries to overcome some of the worst of these diseases, which affect about1.4 billion people worldwide, generally in the poorest countries. Some suchcountries, such as the governments of Brazil, Tanzania, Mozambique andBangladesh, have announced that they will put into action plans to combat anddefeat NTDs by devoting political and financial resources, in addition topledging accountability through mechanisms for tracking their progress.
"From the moment the evidence of the very heavy burden ofNTDs in Mozambique was understood, the government of Mozambique has takenaction and continuously increased its commitment and investment to control oreliminate these diseases," Dr. Alexandre Manguele, Minister of Health ofMozambique, said in a press release. "With the resources pledged today in thecontext of this partnership the government of Mozambique feels ever moreassured that the mission can be accomplished."
The partners also agreed to an ambitious set of goals at anevent at the Royal College of Physicians, pledging to share expertise andcompounds in order to accelerate research and development for new drugs,sustain or expand existing drug donation programs to keep up with demandthrough 2020 and provide more than $785 million in funding to support R&Dand strengthen drug distribution and implementation programs. The groups alsosigned the "London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases" for new levelsof collaborative effort and progress tracking.
In addition, the World Health Organization has released anew plan, "Accelerating work to overcome the global impact of neglectedtropical diseases—A roadmap for implementation," to provide a strategy forguiding efforts and setting goals for the initiative.
"Today, we have joined together to increase the impact ofour investments and build on the tremendous progress made to date," Bill Gates,co-chair of the Gates Foundation, said in a press release."This innovative approach must serve as a model for solving other globaldevelopment challenges and will help millions of people build self-sufficiencyand overcome the need for aid." 
The Gates Foundation has made a five-year, $363-millioncommitment for NTD product and operational research, and together with thePresident of the United Arab Emirates and the Children's Investment FundFoundation, will donate $40 million to The Carter Center to support Guinea wormeradication. The commitments follow a pledge from the U.K. Department ofInternational Development to contribute £20 million (approximately $31.5million) if others would join it, as part of a four-year, £195 million(approximately $307.2 million) NTD commitment.
"The efforts of WHO, researchers, partners and thecontributions of industry have changed the face of NTDs. These ancient diseasesare now being brought to their knees with stunning speed," Dr. Margaret Chan,Director-General of the WHO, said in a press release. "With the boost to thismomentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can beeliminated or controlled by the end of this decade."
According to the International Federation of PharmaceuticalManufacturers & Associations, the companies will donate 1.4 billiontreatments each year on average, between new and existing pledges. The newcommitments will provide the necessary funding for eradicating Guinea wormdisease while also accelerating progress towards the goals of eliminatingblinding trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, sleeping sickness and leprosy andcontrolling river blindness, schistosomiasis, Chagas disease, soil-transmittedhelminthes and visceral leishmaniasis.
New agreements with 11 companies as well as the Drugs forNeglected Diseases initiative will provide unique access to compound librariesto hopefully open the door for new treatments. 
In addition, the U.S. Agency for International Developmentwill provide an additional $89 million for drug delivery and distributionprograms, and the World Bank will extend financial and technical support forAfrican countries working to build stronger community health systems and, inconjunction with other partners, expand a trust fund for combating NTDs inAfrica.
"The world has come together to end the neglect of thesehorrific diseases which needlessly disable, blind and kill millions of theworld's poorest," said Stephen O'Brien, U.K. Minister for InternationalDevelopment. "Britain and other partners are leading the way to providecritical treatments to millions of people, which allow children to attendschool and parents to provide for their families so that they can helpthemselves out of poverty and eventually no longer rely on aid."
SOURCE: Global Health Strategies press release
 The Carter Center
U.K. Department of International Development  

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