Neglected tropical diseases: Over one billion sufferers treated
With the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), the international community set itself the goal of controlling, eliminating or eradicating ten NTDs by 2020. The declaration was signed seven years ago by pharmaceutical corporations, states and NGOs. Accordingly, it is high time for some interim results.
First the good news: The number of people receiving treatment for at least one of the ten NTDs rose from 730 million in 2011 to 1.03 billion in 2017. Over the same period, the percentage of people requiring and receiving treatment for NTDs rose from 37% to 65%.
Furthermore, there has been progress in efforts to eliminate the diseases. However, the elimination of at least one NTD could be confirmed in only 13 countries by 2011. Since it was first signed, 28 more countries have joined the declaration, as reported by the Network Uniting to Combat NTDs, which contributes significantly to making medicines against NTDs available in all regions of the world.
Unequal progress among the diseases
While these numbers are extremely positive, the efforts to combat some of the other NTDs remain at a very early stage, not least because the ten diseases listed in the declaration are exclusively NTDs for which easy-to-use diagnostic procedures and medicines already exist, such as leprosy or various worm diseases.
“There remains a significant supply gap for those diseases where the diagnostic procedures and medicines are expensive, complicated or simply non-existent,” says David Maurer, Secretary General of the Swiss Alliance against Neglected Tropical Diseases (SANTD), which also includes FAIRMED. “The members of SANTD are taking on these challenges through research, development, project work and knowledge transfer,” says Maurer.