Neglected Tropical Diseases
FY2016 Funding Recommendation:
President's FY2016 Request
InterAction's FY2016 Recommendation
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 infectious diseases and conditions afflicting more than one billion of the world’s poorest people and threatening the health of millions more. NTDs kill 400,000 people every year. The NTD program administered by USAID has made important and substantial contributions to the global fight to control and eliminate seven of the most common NTDs by 2020. Leveraging more than $6.7 billion in donated medicines, USAID has supported the distribution of almost one billion safe and effective NTD treatments to more than 400 million people, and supported implementation in 25 countries.
While many of the most common NTDs have treatments that are safe, effective, and easy to use, treatment options are extremely limited for some NTDs with the highest death rates, including human African trypanosomiasis, visceral leishmaniasis, and Chagas disease. New investments are urgently needed to support research and development for new tools – including diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines – for all NTDs.
InterAction recommends a funding level of $125 million for FY2016, an increase of $25 million over FY2015 spending levels. The additional funds will allow USAID to maximize the benefits of increased drug donations from pharmaceutical companies, without making cuts to needed investments that ensure new discoveries make it through the pipeline and become available to people who need them most.
Treating neglected tropical diseases in Sierra Leone
When Sahr Gando, a miner and farmer living in Sierra Leone’s Kono District, contracted schistosomiasis, he could not work to support his family. He is not alone in suffering; a staggering 2.2 million people are at risk of schistosomiasis in Sierra Leone’s northeast district.
Schistosomiasis, or snail fever, is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) transmitted by parasites in contaminated water. Miners who stand all day in water searching for rough diamonds and gold are especially vulnerable. Worldwide, schistosomiasis infects 207 million people and kills an estimated 280,000 people each year in nearly 78 countries, making it the second leading parasitic killer after malaria.
In April 2013, Helen Keller International, in coordination with USAID and RTI International, assisted Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health in providing almost half a million people in Sierra Leone, including Sahr Gando, with life-saving medicines. This ambitious effort was undertaken through mass drug administration (MDA). Because the treatment is safe, effective and does not require medical infrastructure, community members can administer it with basic training.
This MDA was part of USAID’s NTD Program in Sierra Leone, which began in 2008. USAID engages a broad range of stakeholders to expand its reach. USAID’s support also makes possible additional critical components of integrated NTD control, including mapping and training, for schistosomiasis, trachoma and soil-transmitted helminths.
Through USAID’s leadership in building public-private partnerships, we have a chance at controlling and eliminating these devastating diseases.
Photo Credit: Richard Hatzfeld, Sabin Vaccine Institute