At the Clinton Global Initiative today, the Inter-American Development Bank joined with the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases to announce their commitment to mobilize $30 million from the public and private sectors to raise awareness and funding for NTD control and elimination in the Americas, supported by technical assistance from the Pan American Health Organization, regional office of the World Health Organization for the Americas.
These efforts will work alongside existing programs aimed at reducing the suffering from NTDs for people in the Americas. Recognizing the opportunity to make major strides in fighting NTDs in the region, several additional organizations are joining this partnership, including:
- The Brazilian National Soccer Team - committing to raising awareness of NTDs in Brazil and the Americas
- Deworm the World - Donating 20 million deworming tablets to treat intestinal worms in pre-school and school-age children in the region
- GlaxoSmithKline - Reaffirming its support through its long-standing donation of albendazole for the global elimination of lymphatic filariasis
- Lew Lara/TBWA - Committing to providing in-kind advertising and brand marketing strategy services for the partnership's initial advocacy efforts in the Americas
- Maureen Orth - As a Global Network Regional Ambassador, is committing to raise awareness in Colombia of the impact NTDs have on the physical and cognitive development of children and the links between deworming and education
- Miss Universe Organization - Current and former pageant participants will go to regions to raise awareness and help deliver drug treatments
- Partners for Philanthropic Change - Committing to secure $10 million for partnerships to be used toward NTD control in the Americas
"NTDs are some of the most common disabling and disfiguring diseases afflicting the poorest people living in the Americas," said Kari Stoever, Managing Director of the Global Network. "This commitment will provide more than 30 million people suffering from NTDs with preventive treatment and other public health services, while also raising awareness and political will for further action."
NTDs produce extreme poverty through their impact on children's physical and cognitive development, pregnancy outcomes and worker productivity. Based on their prevalence, soil transmitted helminths and Chagas disease cause the greatest NTD burden in the Americas, followed by dengue, schistosomiasis, leishmaniasis, trachoma, leprosy, and lymphatic filariasis. More than 230 million people in the region are currently living with these devastating diseases. However, with a firm commitment from the public and private sectors, it is possible to eliminate onchocerciasis (river blindness), lymphatic filariasis and trachoma throughout the region, as well as schistosomiasis in the Caribbean.
This partnership is a concrete example of how organizations and governments can work together to support new investments to reach control and elimination goals under President Obama's Global Health Initiative. The new Regional Fund to be established with the money raised will specifically go to efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean. The funds will support country ownership and capacity, and beneficiaries include national governments, national programs and non-profits. The partnership will promote integration with existing primary care initiatives such as vitamin A and immunization campaigns, and encourage collaboration with other programs to fight global diseases.