The End of Neglected Tropical Diseases Within Reach

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are affecting 1.5 billion people globally and from those affected 40% are living in Africa. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these diseases are affecting the poorest and hardest to reach communities in Africa.
young child receiving medication

Vision impairment, disfigurement among other disabilities are caused by NTDs which in many cases keep children out of school and affect the livelihoods of millions of families. As such, NTDs are one of the leading causes of poverty. At the same time, they are also a consequence of poverty because they are prevalent where there is limited access to clean water and poor environmental sanitation. 

Lymphatic filariasis, Trachoma, Onchocerciasis (river blindness), Schistosomiasis, and three soil-transmitted helminth infections are some of the most common NTDs. 

NTDs can be treated and controlled by a mass treatment which targets entire populations by administering single-dose medicine donated by pharmaceutical companies. Since 2012 over 7 billion treatments have been donated by these pharmaceutical companies. 

Child receiving medication

With the concerted effort of national governments, international not-for-profit organizations, and International aid organizations, more than one billion people are treated every year.  Within the years 2010 to 2016, the number of people at risk for NTDs have dropped by 25%. So far more than 165 million people are no longer facing the danger of lymphatic filariasis while 61 million people have been treated to avoid the needless blindness that can be caused by trachoma. 

However, more than 1.5 people are still in need of treatment globally and the majority of the burden is in Africa with 600 million African people affected by NTDs. 

Light for the World has been part of this global effort to prevent, control and eliminate NTDs since 2014.  Together with our partners RTI, USAID, the Department for International Development (DfID) and Sightsavers, we have distributed more than 12 million doses of medicines in the Tigray and Oromia regions of Ethiopia - focusing on the most marginalized communities. In addition to the distribution of drugs, we carried out nearly 31.000 eyelid surgeries in 2017 alone. 

Small child taking medicine

Light for the World is proud to be part of this global effort to eliminate NTDs and the results that have been achieved so far.  We are also excited to be part of the continued initiative to fight these public health problems for years to come. 

On the 29th and 30th of April 2019 in Kampala, Uganda, the Research Triangle Institute (RTI), USAID and partners are celebrating the successes of the ENVISION programme and launching the new initiative “Act to End NTDs | EAST”.  Act to End NTDs | EAST will be implemented until 2023. Light for the World has been a partner in the ENVISION programme and will continue to be one of the partners in Act to End NTDs | East, thereby continuing our work of NTD control and elimination in the two regional states of Tigray and Oromia, in Ethiopia. 

The main objective of this new programme is to expand and sustain the impact of NTD programs that had been implemented for the last five years to put an end to these debilitating diseases. This programme will be implemented in countries like Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Laos, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam. 

Mass drug administration will continue through community and school-based distribution. Surveillance surveys and diseases specific assessments will be conducted. Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) will also be given due attention because it is one of the key successes factors in the effort to control and eliminate NTDs.  Health sector strengthening will be a crucial part of the new programme because it is vital for the sustainability of the impacts and results that will be achieved.

With all these efforts, the results achieved so far, and the commitment national governments are showing to end NTDs as a public health problem, the end of NTDs is more and more within reach.

hands distributing and receiving medication