Ending the neglect
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of little known parasitic and bacterial infections affecting over a billion people. Sightsavers has joined forces with four other NTD specialists to form the UK Coalition against Neglected Tropical Diseases and raise awareness of these 17 diseases and what we can do to address them.
They are termed ‘neglected’ because the people they affect are among the poorest and most vulnerable on the planet, so their treatment is often not prioritised and they are forgotten about. In fact despite being a significant cause and effect of poverty, only 1% of development aid is allocated to them.
NTDs cause devastating and often lifelong physical impairments, and some can be fatal. Such as the soil transmitted helminths (STH), which if left untreated results in parasitical worms completely blocking the intestine.
There is clearly a tremendous need to address this group of diseases and there are in fact effective methods for the treatment and prevention of a number of them. Our experience has shown that working in partnership with other organisations and addressing multiple NTDs where possible is the key to tackling them. This is why we joined forces with organisations such as the Carter Center and the Partnership for Child Development to develop the Coalition. The member organisations will work together to highlight the importance of tackling NTDs alongside other major disease interventions, and including them in wider health and development discussions.
A step in the right direction
The UK Government has recently increased funding to NTDs fivefold, by committing a total of £245million to help eliminate them.
You can read a statement from our Chief Executive in response to this, by following the link below.
To find out more about the Coalition, its aims and members, you can visit the UK Coalition against NTDs website here.
You can also follow the Coalition on Twitter on @UK_NTD, and discussions that take place on the hashtag #EndNTDs.
This hashtag was used to tweet live from an event in January about eliminating the NTDs, attended by Bill Gates (the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Margaret Chan (World Health Organization), senior government officials, non-government organisations, the pharmaceutical industry and endemic countries. It was the first time such a range of partners had come together in the UK, and it saw renewed and increased commitments from pharmaceutical companies who donate the drugs to prevent the neglected tropical diseases. The most likely of these diseases to be eliminated is Guinea worm, as the remaining funds needed to achieve this have now been pledged.