The announcement today by the UK government and the Department for International Development to increase its support in the fight against neglected tropical diseases, is truly remarkable.

Neglected tropical diseases are preventable and treatable diseases that affect over 1 billion people. These diseases impact the poorest communities in the world. They disfigure and disable, keep children out of school and parents out of work – limiting their potential.

For many years, the UK has been a world leader in the fight against NTDs, contributing to seven of the ten London Declaration NTDs; visceral leishmaniasis, Guinea worm disease, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, onchocerciasis. In 2016 alone, UK aid funded NTD projects helped distribute over 136 million treatments across 27 countries.

The UK government led support to the ground-breaking Global Trachoma Mapping Project where surveyors collected and transmitted data from 2.6 million people in 29 countries using smartphones. This vital and innovative project helped accurately map trachoma-endemic areas, allowing needed treatment to be more effectively and efficiently delivered, achieving value for money.

Photo 1: A woman looks at a smartphone. Photo 2: A person uses a smartphone while a boy is having his sight tested.

With the support of UK aid, we are closer than ever to reaching our goals of improving the lives of over a billion people.

“These diseases belong to the last century. They cause unimaginable suffering and pain to some of the world’s poorest people, forcing them into a deeper cycle of poverty with no way out. Yet they are treatable.”

The Rt Hon Priti Patel MP, Secretary of State for International Development

This is a real boost and sets us off onto a very good start as we prepare to celebrate the fifth year anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs.

We urge other donor countries to join in with DFID and UK aid in improving the lives of a billion people on the planet.

Read the Department for International Development press release.