LONDON, United Kingdom — Bill Gates, the world's leading thirteen pharmaceutical companies, governments and global organisations have announced unprecedented funding and support to eliminate and control ten neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.
More than US $785 million will be donated to control or eliminate these infections that affect around 1.4 billion people in 149 endemic countries These infections kill or cause disability among the world's poorest people who live mainly in Africa, Latin America and South East Asia.
Speaking at the Royal College of Physicians in London, where the new private-public initiative was announced, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said: "Many of the burdens [of NTDs] have come down but in fact they haven't come down nearly far enough. What is unique about today is about getting everyone on the same page."
The Gates Foundation will contribute US$363 million to support NTD drug and operational research over five years. Pharmaceutical companies, including, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Bayer, Norvatis and Sanofi, will provide 1.4 billion treatments every year. They will also form partnerships for research and development efforts, and all companies will allow access to their compound libraries through the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Intiative (DNDi) that could lead to new and improved treatments.
The new commitments also address the funding gap required to eradicate Guinea worm disease with support from the United Arab Emirates, the Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
The new initiative has been announced in response to the WHO's plan to address NTDs. Last week (26 January), the WHO published its strategy called Accelerating work to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases - A roadmap for implementation, where it sets out targets to be achieved by 2020. The WHO roadmap will also enable partners of the initiative to track progress to ensure accountability and transparency and identify remaining gaps.
"These ancient diseases are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed,” said Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO. “With the boost to this momentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade."
Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, said: “Many companies and organisations have worked for decades to fight these horrific diseases. But no one company or organisation can do it alone. Today, we pledge to work hand-in-hand to revolutionize the way we fight these diseases now and in the future.”
The ten diseases to be eliminated or controlled as part of today's plan include lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, chagas disease and visceral leishmaniasis.
You can watch the video of the London Declaration here.
A good and concise overview of the event can be found on a dedicated live blog here.
More information on neglected tropical diseases can be found on the WHO's website.