One in six people in the world, including half a billion children, suffer from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). 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 the seven most common NTDs by 2020.
NTDs are the stuff of nightmares. Transmitted by worms in the soil, or through an insect bite, these parasitic and bacterial infections cause horrific symptoms.
Imagine feeling as though you have just donated a pint or two of blood, every day for the rest of your life. Or that you are slowly losing your eyesight because your eyelashes are curling inward and scratching your corneas with every blink. What would it feel like to go through life with limbs so swollen that you are no longer able to use them?
One of the worst things about NTDs is that kids and adults get them just by doing normal things—playing outside, swimming, doing laundry and planting crops.
This is what nearly one in six people around the world experience, including half a billion children. NTDs disable and trap the poor in a cycle of poverty by leaving children unable to learn or by undercutting adults’ ability to work productively and take care of their families.
The great news is that we can end the widespread suffering caused by NTDs in a matter of years, not decades or lifetimes. The medicine needed to control and eventually eliminate many NTDs already exists. And, because pharmaceutical companies are donating this medicine for free, it only costs approximately 50 cents to treat and protect one person for up to a year.
The bad news is that the medicine isn’t getting to communities in need fast enough.
That’s where we come in. The Global Network – an initiative of the U.S.-based Sabin Vaccine Institute – 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.
We raise awareness among the general public about NTDs and the threat that they pose to poor communities. We encourage industrial nations, foundations and individuals to make funding for NTD elimination programs a priority. And we collaborate with a group of world-class partners to help national governments undertake annual, low-cost mass drug administrations (MDAs) to treat and eliminate NTDs as a public health threat in their countries.
Throughout our site, you’ll see some things that will be disturbing. But you will also see stories of perseverance and triumph, of human potential when it is unshackled from preventable diseases of poverty.
While the problem is huge, the solution to NTDs is simple. For the cost of a cheap cup of coffee, you can make a real difference in someone’s life.
We hope that you join us to see the end of NTDs.
Photo: Esther Havens