Global health challenges
Neglected tropical diseases
Neglected Tropical Diseases
Interventions in Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) represent some of the largest public health interventions globally, and the innovative biopharmaceutical industry has always been an active partner throughout.
Stopping neglected diseases is achievable. By assisting countries to build strong health systems that are accessible and staffed with qualified healthcare workers, along with helping to bolster the supply chain and facilitate the development and delivery of quality, affordable medicines and vaccines, the innovative biopharmaceutical industry will ensure no-one is left behind on our collective journey to reach the SDGs and achieve UHC.
Strong progress has been made towards tackling Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) over the past decade, although notably a number of NTD donation programs began much before this. In 2018, for the fourth consecutive year, more than one billion people were treated for at least one of the 20 NTDs that are being targeted for control or elimination by the World Health Organization (WHO). Furthermore, over 500 million fewer people no longer require interventions against NTDs. However, over 1.76 billion of the world’s poorest people – or one in five – still have their lives affected, or worse cut short, by NTDs, highlighting the need for a continued, concerted focus on tackling these diseases.
2020 is a landmark year for NTDs. The London Declaration – a collective commitment to bring resources to bear to end NTDs of which industry has been a critical partner and donated over 12 billion treatments – launched in 2012 and is coming to an end, with a new chapter being forged. In addition, this year marks the 10-year countdown to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which includes SDG target 3.3 to ‘End the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, NTDs and other communicable diseases’ and its supporting indicator: Measuring the number of people requiring interventions against NTDs. The political will to address NTDs was exemplified last year at the United Nations (UN) High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC), which recognized that access to NTD interventions is integral to achieving ‘Health for All’. Commitment from national governments towards addressing NTDs is a critical part of achieving UHC and the SDGs is all the more critical. NTDs affect the poorest and most vulnerable parts of communities, especially in resource-constrained settings, and thus exemplifies the UHC vision of leaving no-one behind.
Global health actors need to continue to mobilize attention on NTDs to highlight the cross-sector support needed from policy makers, community leaders, civil society, industry and others to advance our journey to control, eliminate and eradicate NTDs. The WHO believes that if countries consistently treat and protect more than 75% of people needing care, across five NTDs (lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, schistosomiasis, and onchocerciasis), we will be on track to beat these diseases. Great progress has already been made by many countries – in 2017, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Togo have reached the 75% average target – but more needs to be done. Control, elimination and eradication is not in sight for all NTDs and emerging global health challenges, such as antimicrobial resistance, mean that new prevention and treatment approaches are needed.
As the innovative biopharmaceutical industry, we recognize that to achieve an NTD-free world we need to work together to sustain current initiatives and develop new, innovative approaches. Our industry’s NTD work, and that of the private sector at large, is central to helping countries to address their NTD-related health challenges. By assisting countries to build strong health systems that are accessible and staffed with qualified healthcare workers, along with helping to bolster the supply chain and facilitate the development and delivery of quality, affordable medicines and vaccines, we will ensure no-one is left behind on our collective journey to reach the SDGs and achieve UHC.
The London Declaration brought together the innovative biopharmaceutical industry with multi-sector partners to advance R&D to eradicate, eliminate or control 10 NTDs by 2020, including a pledge to donate 14 billion treatments over 10 years. More than 80 diverse partners committed to the declaration, including original endorsers: AbbVie, Bayer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, DNDi, MSD, Eisai, Gilead, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Lions Club International Foundation, Merck, Mundo Sano, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, The World Bank, DFID and USAID. The declaration recognizes the crucial role the private sector plays in the fight against NTDs through our innovations, medicines and vaccines, as well as coalitions and partnerships.
Over eight years
12 pharmaceutical companies have donated over 12 billion treatments
more than one billion people were treated for at least one of the WHO’s 20 prioritized NTDs
15 pharmaceutical companies
conduct R&D on 14 NTDS