Over one billion people, mostly in the developing world, suffer from one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that can blind, disfigure, or debilitate their victims. These diseases often reduce school enrollment, diminish childhood growth and cognitive development, and contribute to child malnutrition. Seven major NTDs: lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis); schistosomiasis (snail fever); trachoma (eye infection); onchocerciasis (river blindness); and three soil-transmitted helminthes (STHs – hookworm, roundworm, whipworm), can be controlled and even eliminated through targeted mass drug administration.
In 2008, the United States made a commitment to significantly reduce the burden of NTDs in the developing world. Furthermore, the United States encouraged other donors to aid in the control and eventual elimination of NTDs as a major threat to health and economic growth in the developing world.
Through this initiative, the United States will provide $350 million over five years (FY 2009-FY 2013) to treat the seven major NTDs. The investment will enable the United States to reach over 300 million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America suffering from these diseases. In addition, the initiative will increase the number of targeted countries from 10 (in 2008) to 30 by 2013 and will specifically target communities with integrated treatment to combat the prevalence of NTDs.
The effects of NTDs can hinder human productivity and economic growth. Treatment of these diseases will contribute to poverty reduction, strengthen child development, advance educational achievement, and improve worker productivity.
Other global health supporters, including our G-8 partners, foundations, and public, private, and voluntary organizations are challenged to complement the United States' commitments by providing an additional $650 million collectively to close the funding gap and reach 75% of those affected by the seven major NTDs.