On Friday 30th September 2016, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) commemorated 10 years of hard-won accomplishments against NTDs. Mark Stoleson, CEO of Legatum, joined an all-star panel including Gale Smith, Administrator of USAID and Senator Patrick Leahy, to discuss world-scale solutions for combating Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) through public-private partnerships. Together they looked at new ways to carry this collective energy and expertise forward to achieve the World Health Organization’s 2020 global goals for NTD elimination and control.
More than 1 billion people – or one in seven people worldwide – suffer from one or more painful, debilitating NTDs. These diseases disproportionately impact poor and rural populations, cause severe sickness and disability, compromise mental and physical development and contribute to childhood malnutrition.
People suffering from NTDs are often stigmatised and isolated, unable to fully and productively participate in daily community life and unable to escape poverty.
However, there is reason to be optimistic. Seven diseases, causing 80 percent of the global NTD burden, can be prevented or even eliminated. By improving access to existing, safe and cost-effective tools like mass drug administration, high quality surgery and disease management services, as well as promoting access to clean water and sanitation, a new course is being charted for people, families and communities, making it possible to imagine a future free from debilitating disease.
Legatum first began researching NTDs in 2006 when Alan McCormick, Partner and Managing Director at Legatum, read a newspaper article which explained that by combining modest funding with a little imagination, you could effectively treat this basket of malevolent diseases. After much research, Legatum devised a programme which would be tested in two of Africa’s most challenging countries, Burundi and Rwanda, both of which suffered extensively from NTDs. After treating over 8.5 million people and dramatically reducing prevalence rates below the World Health Organization (WHO) threshold of ten percent, Legatum began to devise plans for a global fund.
In 2012 they founded the END Fund which was set up to successfully control and eliminate the most prevalent neglected diseases among the world's poorest and most vulnerable people by 2020. Since inception the END Fund, described as ‘the Médecins Sans Frontières of NTDs’, has treated over 75 million people, mobilised over $50 million and has become the third largest private funder in the fight against NTDs – sitting shoulder to shoulder with USAID and DFID, both government-led initiatives.
By continuing the collective efforts of public and private funders, together we can ensure that NTDs are no longer neglected.
To learn more about our efforts to end Neglected Tropical Diseases, please visit www.end.org