Today the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Disease (APPMG) released its final report of this parliamentary term on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
The report highlights the impressive progress that has been achieved in combating NTDs over the last parliamentary term. This progress has largely been made possible due to substantial increases in funding from donors, led by the UK and US. The UK Department for International Development (DFID) has increased its expenditure from £50 million to £245 million over the four years from 2011-2015. The UK remains a leading global donor to NTDs, and the report pays tribute to the members of the APPMG who have played a crucial role in keeping these diseases high on the development agenda in the UK.
This report comes following the launch of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) third report on NTDs last week in London which highlighted some of the recent successes in the global fight against these diseases. The scaling up of investment has meant that in 2012 alone over 800 million people were treated for at least one NTD. Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease) has been almost eliminated, with just 126 cases in 2014. The number of cases of African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) has fallen by 90 percent in 15 years, and 27 countries have now achieved the target of treating 75 percent of school-age children for soil-transmitted helminths.
“We welcome the progress being made in the fight against NTDs, outlined in these two reports,” said Malaria Consortium Chief Executive, Charles Nelson. “The launch of the WHO NTD report in London last week demonstrated the leading role that the UK is playing in fighting these diseases. As we look ahead, it is crucial that all UK parties make combating NTDs a development priority, so that we can sustain the successes made so far and build upon them in an as efficient and equitable way as possible.”
Despite these successes, there remain many key challenges that stand between us and the goal of ridding the world of these diseases, including improved surveillance systems and increased research and development into tools. However, the most significant challenge remains continued investment. The UK must not only remain a leader in the fight against NTDs, but it needs to champion investments for NTDs internationally. In particular, affected countries need to enhance their domestic investments in order to sustainably address social and health inequities.
In 2015, there is growing international momentum behind efforts to fight these diseases, with NTDs set to be on the agenda at the G7 meeting in Germany. However at the same time, NTDs have been omitted from the UN Secretary General’s Synthesis Report, which forms the basis for final negotiations around the Sustainable Development Goals. The UK is well placed to promote global action on NTDs this year, and both these reports will help to ensure this happens.
To download the report, click here.