Alyssa Milano Named Founding Ambassador of Global Network

Milano Teams with Sabin Vaccine Institute to Raise Awareness of Neglected Tropical Diseases and Pledges $250,000 to Provide Treatment to Millions

The Sabin Vaccine Institute, a leader in the fight against “diseases of poverty,” announced today that actress Alyssa Milano has been named the founding ambassador of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Disease Control (GLOBAL NETWORK). The GLOBAL NETWORK, based at the Sabin Vaccine Institute in Washington, D.C., is comprised of the major global health partnerships devoted to the control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). In her role as ambassador, Milano will work to raise the profile of NTDs by educating the media and general public of the plight faced by the one billion people afflicted by them, and the importance in controlling and preventing this global health crisis.

NTDs are 13 chronic and disabling bacterial and parasitic infections known as “diseases of poverty.” They afflict the “poorest of the poor” – one billion people living on less than $2 per day in the most impoverished areas of the developing world. The GLOBAL NETWORK is pioneering the integrated use of donated drugs – combined into a “rapid impact package” – to combat the seven most common NTDs. This integrated platform is already regarded as a model for global disease control.

In her first act as founding ambassador, Milano has personally pledged $250,000 over five years towards the purchase of safe, effective and inexpensive drugs to combat NTDs. The GLOBAL NETWORK and its partnering organizations will use Milano’s firstyear donation for a full-scale implementation program to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (LF) in Myanmar, a Southeast Asian nation where LF is extremely prevalent. Specifically, 12 million tablets of DEC, which is part of the “rapid impact package,” will be purchased to treat four million individuals. Her donation has spurred a matching grant, which will double its reach to 8 million individuals in total.

“Words cannot fully express the devastation and horror caused by NTDs,” said Milano. “Until now, these ‘diseases of poverty’ have been hidden in the shadows. Working closely with the GLOBAL NETWORK, I will do all I can to bring this tragedy into the public eye.”

Milano, an active philanthropist, was introduced to the GLOBAL NETWORK through her involvement with the Clinton Global Initiative. Upon hearing a panel discussion on NTDs, which included former President Jimmy Carter and Sabin Vaccine Institute President and GLOBAL NETWORK Co-Founder, Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., she pledged to dedicate time, effort and funds to promote advocacy, policy and partnerships in the global fight against NTDs.

"NTDs are a global health epidemic that must be addressed now,” said Hotez. “We are deeply indebted to Alyssa for getting involved in the fight against NTDs. She will play a key role in raising awareness of this critical issue and supporting our ‘call to action’ to eliminate NTDs.”

The Lymphatic Filariasis Support Centre at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, a founding member of the GLOBAL NETWORK, will coordinate the acquisition of medicine for this project. According to Professor David Molyneux, “Ms. Milano’s generous support will not only benefit those currently suffering from LF, but will prevent further disease in children, thereby protecting future generations from the deformity and disability it causes.” Prof. Molyneux is Executive Secretary, GAELF Executive Group, and Professor of Tropical Health Sciences, University of Liverpool.

The announcement of Milano as the GLOBAL NETWORK’s founding ambassador follows the awarding in March of an $8.9 million dollar grant via Geneva Global Inc., a philanthropic investment advisory firm, to fund a “rapid impact” campaign to control and eliminate NTDs in Rwanda and Burundi.

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