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Neglected Tropical Diseases

About one billion people, mostly in the developing world, suffer from one or more Neglected Tropical Diseases. These diseases disproportionately impact poor populations, cause severe sickness and disability, compromise mental and physical development, reduce school enrollment, and hinder economic productivity.

Seven of these diseases – elephantiasis; snail fever; trachoma; river blindness; and 3 soil-transmitted parasitic worms, hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm, can be controlled through targeted mass drug administration.

In 2006, the US Congress allocated $15 million to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to combat these 7 neglected tropical diseases -- focusing initially on 5 countries in Africa – Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, and Uganda. In the first year, 36 million treatments were delivered to more than 16.5 million people.

In its second year, the program expanded to Haiti, Sierra Leone, and southern Sudan, and provided approximately 57 million treatments to over 30 million people. In October 2008, the program expanded to Asia - adding programs in Nepal and Bangladesh. USAID has invested $30 million to date in the neglected tropical diseases control program. U.S funding is leveraging hundreds of millions of dollars through donations of drugs from several pharmaceutical companies.

Earlier this year, President George W. Bush challenged the world to reduce, control, and eliminate the burden of neglected tropical diseases as a major threat to health and economic growth in the developing world. The United States will make a total of $350 million available over 5 years to provide treatment to more than 300 million people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The President’s neglected tropical diseases initiative is a collaborative U.S. government effort led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). USAID is collaborating closely with technical partners in planning the Initiative, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The U.S. will partner with countries struggling under a high burden of neglected tropical diseases to ensure an integrated country specific approach to fighting this scourge. Country eligibility is based on factors such as overlapping disease burdens, funding gaps for treatment, feasibility of implementation, and political commitment.

U.S. government agencies, working with private industry will identify issues related to drug supplies and delivery, to ensure the availability and affordability of all drugs required.