New Report: Investments in NTDs are one of the best buys in development

Third progress report since the London Declaration on NTDs shows strong endemic country leadership and calls on partners to scale up efforts in order to reach WHO targets.

25 June 2015

A new report by Uniting to Combat NTDs highlights dramatic health and economic benefits from investing in combating neglected tropical diseases, making it one of the best buys in development.

The report, entitled Country Leadership and Collaboration on Neglected Tropical Diseases, and launched today in London, comes on the heels of increased attention to NTDs at the World Health Assembly and inclusion in the recent G7 Leaders’ Declaration. The report finds that countries are increasingly taking ownership of NTD programs, have started providing new funding and are pursuing innovative approaches to combat these devastating diseases. Yet while these new methods have produced substantial progress, further scale-up is necessary to reach the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2020 targets.

Country Leadership and Collaboration on Neglected Tropical Diseases is the third progress report since the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs, when a public-private coalition commited to achieve WHO’s 2020 targets for 10 NTDs. According to the report, if countries achieve 2020 targets, healthier citizens would generate an estimated US$623 billion in increased productivity between 2015 and 2030, meaning that for each US$1 invested in NTD scale-up, endemic countries would see productivity gains of US$51 from 2015-2020 and US$184 for 2021-2030.

Key statistics:
Global coverage is increasing: approximately 785 million people (43% of at-risk populations) were reached with at least one drug, compared to around 35% in 2008.
• 126 cases of Guinea worm disease were reported in 2014, a staggering 99.99% drop since 1986. Only 5 cases have been reported so far in 2015.
• Of the 81 countries endemic for Lymphatic filariasis (LF), 25 countries (31%) are no longer in need of mass drug administration (MDA), including 10 which have successfully eliminated transmission.
Fewer than 4,000 new cases of human African trypanosomiasis (also known as sleeping sickness) were reported to WHO last year, the lowest level in at least 75 years.

Despite progress, the report identifies several areas where progress must be accelerated:
Coverage rates: While more people are being reached, improvement in many places remains too low to achieve set goals. A scorecard released with the report shows progress against schistosomiasis lags behind other diseases despite the availability of a simple treatment.
New diagnostics and tools: Reaching WHO roadmap targets for a number of these diseases relies on new diagnostics and tools, some of which are still in development, underscoring the importance of prioritizing research and development.
Funding: Scaling up programs to address these gaps requires additional funding. The report cites an annual delivery funding gap of US$200-300 million between now and 2020. The WHO estimates that low- and middle-income countries could fully fund their share of universal coverage against NTDs with less than 0.1% of domestic spending on health.

Read the report

Established in 2012, Uniting to Combat NTDs is a group of organizations committed to achieving the WHO's 2020 goal to control and eliminate 10 NTDs as laid out in in the London Declaration.