FHI 360 Co-sponsors Policy Brief on NTDs and the Post-2015 Development Agenda
April 16th, 2013
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) afflict one in six of the world’s poorest and most marginalized people, including 500 million children. These diseases directly affect nutrition, school attendance, cognitive and physical development of children, and the health of pregnant women. Not only do NTDs impact health, but they also undercut economic growth. If untreated, NTDs affect the ability to work and increase the likelihood of contracting HIV. However, NTDs receive a very small portion of global health funding and are not directly mentioned in the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Treating NTDs is extremely cost-effective. Through successful public-private partnerships, pharmaceutical companies donate nearly all of the drugs necessary for counteracting the seven most common NTDs. For only US $0.50 per person per year, we can treat and protect against NTDs, and in turn avert malnutrition, improve education outcomes, improve maternal and child health, reduce new cases of HIV, and set the stage for sustainable economic development.
As a group of parasitic, viral, and bacterial diseases, NTDs infect the poorest people in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia. The seven most common NTDs are lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, three soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections (hookworm, ascariasis, and trichuriasis), and trachoma. They affect 1.4 billion people and lead to significant physical and mental disabilities. NTDs sustain economic inequality and trap people in a cycle of poverty as they typically afflict the poorest people who lack access to clean water and sanitation, education, and adequate medical care.
Despite the negative worldwide impact of NTDs, efforts to control and eliminate them receive less than two percent of total global health funding. In the United States alone, federal NTD funding was initially slated to decrease by 25 percent in the fiscal year 2013 budget. By comparison in 2010, the U.S. Congress allocated twice as much funding towards Avian Flu preparedness, despite the fact that Avian Flu has only caused 1,000 deaths over the past 10 years. The lack of global support for NTD funding indicates that policymakers are unaware of, or at least, fail to recognize the high value and feasibility of NTD treatment.
Read more by downloading the Development Agenda: Neglected Tropical Diseases and the Post-2015 Development Agenda (pdf, 1.1 MB).
To reduce human suffering, increase economic prosperity, and achieve greater global equality for more than one billion people afflicted with neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the developing world, we urge the United Nations High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda and other stakeholders engaged in the post-2015 framework process to:
Recognize that NTD control/elimination will significantly improve the health of the most marginalized communities and strengthen primary health systems, water and sanitation programs, and food security and nutritional efforts.
Ensure the post-2015 framework includes specific targets and indicators for NTDs for all relevant goals and desired development outcomes.