Executive Director, Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 20 diseases that debilitate, disfigure and can kill those affected.
Incredible progress has been made against neglected tropical diseases. There are 43 countries that have eliminated at least one so far and 600 million people no longer require treatment for NTDs, proving that ending these diseases is possible.
However, there is still a lot more work to be done until the world is free of NTDs, which is why the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2030 Roadmap – which sets out targets to ensure that NTDs are eradicated, eliminated or controlled by 2030 – is so important.
Setting out roadmap success
Many factors will underpin the WHO roadmap success, but action at the community, national and global level is critical.
At a community level: We need empowered and informed communities worldwide that can take charge of their own health. These must be supported by strong community delivery systems and public health functions which can respond to endemic diseases, ensuring the world is more resilient to epidemics.
At a national level: Country ownership has been critical to progress on NTDs to date. Continued country leadership is essential if we are to deliver tangible results at scale. This means countries creating and delivering country plans, integrating NTD programmes into national health services and as part of Universal Health Coverage plans, enabling domestic resource mobilisation and celebrating successes to demonstrate that progress is possible.
At a global level: COVID-19 has shown how highly connected the world is, how diseases don’t respect borders and why disease control can only be dealt with through global coordinated action.
We must each play our part at the community, national and global level to ensure that NTDs are eradicated, eliminated or controlled by 2030.
As such, the eradication and elimination of NTDs must be recognised as a global public good whose benefits are of universal reach. This includes backing efforts to tackle NTDs with bold financial commitments, incorporating NTDs in global agendas, ensuring we have robust data and surveillance systems to track and respond to emerging infections and including NTDs as part of the global health security agenda and associated financing mechanisms.
Equally, partnerships and collaboration among a wide range of stakeholders – governments, donors, civil society, the private sector and academia – are key if we are to move the dial on NTDs.
These diseases are preventable or treatable, so it is within our power to end NTDs. We must each play our part at the community, national and global level to ensure that NTDs are eradicated, eliminated or controlled by 2030.