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Neglected Tropical Diseases 2021

It is possible to end the “neglect” in NTDs

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Monica Parise, MD

CAPT U.S. Public Health Service, Director, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

A world without debilitating, disfiguring and even deadly neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is within reach and eliminating them will save millions of lives.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) include several parasitic, viral and bacterial diseases that cause substantial and devastating illness, and economic challenges globally. Several of these diseases can be controlled or eliminated through existing, straightforward, community-level interventions, including mass drug administration of preventive medicines donated by pharmaceutical companies, or simple water filtration.

Together, we can shrink this global health equity gap and ensure healthier futures for millions of people.

The current need

The warranted, expanded global focus on the control and elimination of NTDs has called for development and validation of surveillance strategies that are cost effective and can be integrated into existing programs. 

A core strength of CDC’s work is in the laboratory which provides a vital and unique service to states and countries to improve the diagnosis of diseases. As part of our focus on eliminating NTDs and the commitment to innovation, we developed a multiplex diagnostic tool to improve surveillance of NTDs, as well as vaccine-preventable diseases, like malaria and some waterborne and zoonotic infections. 

CDC works with partners to provide scientific leadership and input towards global NTD policy development. We also offer trainings and technical assistance to help strengthen global laboratory capacity and build a skilled international workforce capable of integrating new technologies into their own NTD elimination and other disease prevention and control efforts.

Collaboration to tackle NTDs

CDC has worked for decades with the U.S. Agency for International Development, other U.S. government partners, and outside of the U.S. with in-country partners, including ministries of health; and globally with non-governmental partners to eliminate NTDs.

More than 40 countries have achieved the World Health Organization’s (WHO) elimination targets for at least one NTD by 2020. Millions of people no longer require treatment for lymphatic filariasis, trachoma or Guinea worm disease.

We should celebrate the successes so far, but at the same time continue program scale up and advance scientific research that will inform the way forward.

We are committed to reach WHO’s new global targets for eliminating NTDs in its recently launched Ending the Neglect to Attain the Sustainable Development Goals: A Roadmap for Neglected Tropical Diseases 2021–2030. We are determined to maintain our progress in combatting NTDs and are making strides toward elimination. Public health never takes place in a vacuum. Together, we can shrink this global health equity gap and ensure healthier futures for millions of people.

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