London, United Kingdom, 19th February, 2015 — The stakeholders of Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) welcome the launch of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) third annual report on NTDs: Investing to overcome the global impact of neglected tropical diseases.

This report provides the first ever targets for investment to achieve the WHO NTDs Roadmap targets by 2020 and universal coverage against NTDs by 2030, and makes the case that the elimination and control of NTDs will be a measure of the success of Universal Health Coverage in reaching the poorest.

Since 2000, NTD programs have delivered more than 5 billion preventive treatments and reached an estimated 5 million people for individual treatment and care. Seventy countries are implementing comprehensive NTD programs.  Because the highest burden of NTDs is among the most marginalized populations, NTD programs have developed strategies to successfully deliver treatments to people with little or no access to health services.  By freeing them from the prospect of debilitating disease, NTD control has opened up a path out of extreme poverty and paved the way for the provision of primary health care to the poorest of the poor that will be critical to attaining universal health coverage.

Commenting on the launch of the WHO report, the Chair of the Stakeholders Working Group of Uniting to Combat NTDs, Dr Julie Jacobson, applauded WHO’s visionary translation and link between NTDs coverage and Universal Health Coverage “This important report repositions NTDs within the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Universal Health Coverage (UHC), highlighting not only the tremendous advances towards disease elimination of NTDs, but also their vital contribution to broader health and development goals. Uniting to Combat NTDs stakeholders will work with WHO and the NTD community over the next couple of months to define a collective NTD indicator that will reference both the 2020 Roadmap and the UHC targets to 2030.”

The WHO report points out that achieving universal coverage against NTDs by 2030 will be critical to reaching UHC, but will require more than double the current foreign aid. NTD’s within that context are a small fraction and represent an important first step in access and equity.  The Uniting to Combat NTDs partners remain committed to supporting the control and elimination goals through financial contributions, research and development for improved health tools, donation of medicines and programme implementation, to address NTDs. We also strongly support the WHO’s call for diversifying funding and developing innovative funding mechanisms to supplement current investments and enable programs to expand.

We urge all countries where NTDs are affecting their populations to mobilize domestic investments that will be critical to scaling up NTD programs and to building the health system and research capacity necessary to sustain gains and provide care for associated morbidity management long after NTD targets have been met.

Looking to 2020 and beyond, we remain dedicated to supporting national programs as they employ an integrated approach to NTD control. We must continue to seek links with sectors whose work is integral to NTD control such as water, sanitation and hygiene, and to pursue new research and diagnostic tools that can improve program effectiveness.

We also must stay focused on securing the long-term political and financial commitments that will be needed to reach elimination and coverage goals. By mid-year 2015, the Uniting to Combat NTDs partnership will release its third progress report on NTDs which will provide specific examples and case studies that complement the WHO report.

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases

Established in 2012, Uniting to Combat NTDs is a collective of invested, interested and dedicated group of partners that came together to provide different dimensions of support toward attaining the WHO 2020 goals for 10 NTDs as documented in the London Declaration. The collective work of Uniting to Combat NTDs complements WHO’s direct collaboration with endemic countries and builds on the ongoing work of several disease-specific partnerships. The 10 diseases covered by the London Declaration include river blindness, Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths, leprosy, Chagas disease, visceral leishmaniasis and sleeping sickness.

To find out more about the work of Uniting to Combat NTDs and to learn more about NTDs please go to our website.