Our Initiatives

Elimination of NTDs

The Issue: Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of communicable diseases that affect more than 600 million people in Africa.

These dangerous and destructive diseases can be prevented and treated. Without proper treatment, they cause severe disfigurement and disabilities that create obstacles to education, employment, economic growth and overall development.

NTDs are most prevalent among poor and under-served communities, causing approximately 534,000 deaths annually. Although NTDs may be of public health significance in the communities they most affect, they are often not considered priorities and hence are neglected at all levels – regionally, nationally and internationally.

Beyond direct health loss, the harmful effects of NTDs range from decreased economic productivity, low school attendance for youth, reduced child development, negative pregnancy outcome, increased social stigma and potential health system overload during outbreaks. In short, NTDs perpetuate poverty. If NTDs are not addressed, over one billion of the world’s most vulnerable, most disadvantaged people will be left behind from development progress over the next 15 years.

The Solution: In January 2012, a coalition of philanthropic organizations, donor countries, governments of NTD endemic countries and pharmaceutical companies signed the London Declaration, committing to control, eliminate or eradicate the most prevalent NTDs.  

As part of this historic commitment, the CEOs of 13 pharmaceutical partners have agreed to donate the drugs necessary to eliminate NTDs. Thus far, these 13 pharmaceutical partners have contributed more than $17.8 billion in drug donations.

In ensure that these drug donations are effectively used by the endemic countries as they push to eliminate NTDs , the World Health Organization created the Expanded Special Project to End NTDs (“ESPEN”).  Hosted by WHO AFRO, ESPEN provides endemic countries with the targeted technical, financial, and operational assistance needed to effectively use the drug donations to help fight soil-transmitted helminths, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis and trachoma.

The Access Challenge is partnering with Panorama and Speak Up Africa to raise the global profile of NTDs and ESPEN’s leadership in the fight against NTDs.