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The case for investing in neglected tropical diseases

© Jane Barlow/ PA

© Jane Barlow/ PA

Why invest in neglected tropical diseases?

Investing in NTD programmes creates a ripple effect in society. It leads to better education, health, and employment outcomes, and transforms lives and communities. It also helps to reduce gender inequity, stigma, and preventable mortality and morbidity.

For individuals, it means a life without fear of being disabled or losing a livelihood from preventable disease.

Investing in NTDs is a global development success story

Investing in NTDs is a global development success story. So far, as of November 2023, 50 countries have eliminated at least one NTD, showing progress is possible.

In 2022, Togo became the first country in the world to eliminate four diseases – and all of them NTDs. In 2020, 600 million fewer people required interventions against NTDs than in 2010.

47 countries

WHO Global report on NTDs, 2023

Best-buy in global health

When there are so many intractable issues in global health, investments in NTDs can offer wins for donors and for affected communities.

Investment is seen as a development 'best-buy' and yields significant ROI. An investment case for ending NTDs estimated that preventive chemotherapy brought an estimated net benefit to affected individuals of about US$ 25 per US$ 1 invested.

NTDs affect predominantly regions and populations with the greatest needs for development. The link between tackling NTDs and development has been recognized through the SDGs. In 2016, NTDs were added into the SDG 3.3, as epidemics to be ended by 2030.

Reducing the disease burden due to NTDs can also contribute to alleviating poverty (Goal 1) and hunger (Goal 2), promoting quality education (Goal 4), improving gender equity (Goal 5) and reducing inequality (Goal 10). By building human capital, it will ultimately contribute to economic growth (Goal 8).

A recent study by Deloitte, commissioned by the END Fund, showed that Nigeria could gain approximately $19 billion in increased productivity

A world more prepared for pandemics

To prepare effectively for future pandemics, health systems need to be strong and responsive to the health needs of their populations. NTD programmes strengthen institutions and catalyse lasting transformations in health systems.

When we have stronger health systems, and stronger communities, deadly but curable diseases have less room for manoeuvre.

Intelligent investment up front in tackling existing epidemics, like NTDs, can save billions down the road.

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However, sustainable financing is needed

For some time, a lack of resources has been a significant barrier to the control, elimination, and eradication of NTDs.

This challenge has only been intensified by COVID-19 which has caused severe delays and disruption to NTD programmes (NTD services were the second most disrupted health services from COVID-19), as well as a massive repurposing and diversion of resources.

Sustainable financing is urgently needed to save lives now, get back on track and ensure that past gains are not lost.

Find out why investing in NTDs is a win for everyone

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Invest in neglected tropical diseases

There are many ways to invest in NTDs. To discuss opportunities, email stuart@unitingtocombatntds.org