The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, works to raise the awareness, political will and funds necessary to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Most people have never heard of diseases such as elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, trachoma or hookworm infection. But these diseases are among those known as NTDs that affect more than a billion people.
Thriving in communities that lack access to health services, adequate sanitation and clean water, NTDs blind, disable and disfigure, trapping families in a cycle of poverty and disease. But the most common NTDs can be treated and, ultimately, eliminated through inexpensive interventions.
For approximately 50 cents per year, one person can receive treatment and protection against the most common NTDs, making NTD control one of the most simple and cost-effective investments in global health and development. Since most of the pills to treat these diseases are donated by pharmaceutical companies, the costs are limited to setting up treatment programs that communities run themselves in order to distribute the medicines effectively to the people who need them most.
In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted an ambitious roadmap that set targets for the control and elimination of NTDs by 2020. By treating entire communities at once with safe, preventative medication, some of these diseases can be eliminated (elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, trachoma) and others controlled (soil-transmitted helminths: roundworm, whipworm and hookworm). Several other NTDs can be managed through available, low-cost measures.
Global Network works with international partners at the highest levels of government, business and society to break down the logistical and financial barriers to delivering existing NTD treatments to the people who need them most. And we collaborate with a group of committed partners to help national governments develop and run their own NTD programs in order to eliminate NTDs as a public health threat in their countries and meet the targets outlined by the WHO.
The vision of the Global Network is a world free of NTDs where all people are able to grow, learn and become productive members of their communities.
Photo: Esther Havens