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Preventing Tropical Disease

USAID’s Neglected Tropical Disease program helped treat 60 million people. USAID works with international partners to distribute essential medicines to large at-risk populations

A year-old commitment to focus new resources on neglected tropical diseases is making progress.

A year-old commitment to focus new resources on neglected tropical diseases is making progress in delivery of medicine and preventive treatment to one billion poor people most severely affected by these conditions.

Preventing Tropical Disease
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A broad coalition of governments, health agencies, and private companies issued the London Declaration in January 2012, vowing to step up action on these diseases, aiming for the control and elimination of ten neglected tropical maladies by 2020. From Promises to Progress, a report issued by the coalition, finds "exciting progress," with pharmaceutical partners in the coalition stepping up their donations of medicines to 1.12 billion treatments.

The heightened focus on neglected tropical diseases from the international community has sparked greater action from endemic nations and as result of the coalition reports, 40 nations are drawing up multi-year plans for attacking these dangerous illnesses.

The coalition report also notes increased financial commitments from donor nations. The United Kingdom upped its commitment to the equivalent of $42.5 million, a 70 percent increase over its 2011 support.

Additionally, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has steadily increased its donations in recent years to reach $89 million in 2012. USAID is working in 24 countries to combat neglected tropical diseases, with populations that represent 41 percent of the global need.

"We are beginning to see control and elimination of these diseases in many countries," said Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, USAID’s Assistant Administrator for Global Health. "It's a triumph of partnership — working together to create new medicines, get the drugs to the communities that need them, and enlist local support to ensure appropriateness of proposed interventions."

These diseases have sickened, disabled and disfigured more than 1 billion people in 149 countries. Historical records document that some of these conditions have plagued humankind for a millennium. While the maladies are not always fatal, they may cause lifelong disabilities that limit an individual's opportunities and productivity.

The ten diseases targeted for elimination by 2020 include trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness; Chagas' disease; guinea worm disease; sleeping sickness; elephantiasis; leprosy; river blindness; schistosomiasis; intestinal worms; and visceral leishmaniasis.

The campaign against neglected tropical diseases is part of a U.S. Global Health Initiative launched by President Obama in 2009. The U.S. is proud to work with its international partners to help fight an age-old enemy of mankind, tropical disease.