The GSA Blog

Uniting to Combat 5th Progress Report

Reporting on the progress in the control and elimination of NTDs since the landmark 2012 London Declaration, the report highlights some of the key achievements and reminds us to take stock of how far we have come.

In London in 2012, pharmaceutical companies, donors, NTD-affected countries and NGOs signed the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases (more here), recognising that no one organization alone can eliminate NTDs but by committing to work together the control, elimination or potential eradication of 10 diseases by 2020 is feasible. Uniting to Combat NTDs (UTC website here) is a collective of the dedicated partners whose aim is to strengthen advocacy and accountability in achieving these overarching goals. Every year they release a report measuring the progress made on these 10 diseases against the targets of control and/or elimination by 2020. Today UTC released their 5th progress report (click here).

Some of the highlights of the report are:

Treatments: Thanks to the huge investments and donations from the pharmaceutical industry and through private-public partnerships a total of 1.8 billion treatments were donated in 2016 and 2017 saw a Guinness-world record in the largest number of drugs donated in a single day. These donated drugs are the backbone of many NTD control programmes and contributed to these amazing achievements:

  • One billion people treated for at least one NTD in 2016.

  • 400 million fewer people require preventative chemotherapy for NTDs compared to 2012.

NTDs: The report documents some fantastic highlights from individual NTDs:

  • Trachoma eliminated in 5 countries since 2012, including Morocco in 2016 and Mexico in 2017.

  • In 2017 lymphatic filariasis was eliminated in in 4 countries including Togo, the first sub-Saharan African country.

  • Onchocerciasis has been eliminated in 4 countries since 2012.

Funding: This year saw some fantastic news regarding funding and investments in NTD control!

At the NTD summit in April 2017, $812million was pledged by donors: $450million over 5 years from the UK government DFID, 27million from the Belgium government and $335 million form the Gates foundation.  USAID has been donating $100million per year over a 4 year period.  In addition, a $100 million fund has been set up by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for the elimination of river blindness and lymphatic filariasis and $4million from the Kuwait Fund to support WHO AFRO ESPEN (Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases).

Schistosomiasis progress and challenges

Focusing on our favourite disease, whilst schistosomiasis remains prevalent with challenges to overcome, there have been considerable achievements made that give us cause to celebrate!

1. The WHO reports considerable progress in the percentage coverage of school-aged children reached, over 70million of them were treated for schistosomiasis in 2016. The WHO also highlighted the need to reach girls and women of reproductive-age to prevent them from developing Female Genital Schistosomiasis, a dangerous pathological manifestation of the disease that can persist even post infection and can have serious consequences (more here)!

The data show substantial progress in 2016 to reach almost 54% global coverage, with an impressive 57% coverage in the African Region due to expansion of control interventions,” said Dr Ren Minghui, WHO Assistant Director-General for Communicable Diseases. “The global target set in WHO’s roadmap on neglected tropical diseases is to reach at least 75% of all school-age children in endemic areas by 2020."

2. The recently published 2016 study on the Global Burden of Disease highlights that numbers of people affected by the schistosomiasis has considerably reduced since 2006! Out of all the NTDs, schistosomiasis, together with onchocerciasis, got a special mention as two diseases in the low socio-demographic group showing the largest reduction in years lived with disability (YLDs), a measurement of the burden of disease. We can be proud that we have achieved such a pronounced reduction of this disease in the poorest and most vulnerable of communities! Overall the percentage reduction in YLDs from 2006 to 2016 is between 34·6 to 31·4 and the estimated number of people infected in 2016 is between 180 and 200 million people, considerable less than the estimated 260 million people in 2006. For that we owe our sincerest thanks to the stalwarts of the schistosomiasis control world (you know who you are!) and to the many individuals, governments and NGOs that have joined the fight!

“Between 2006 and 2016, there were large drops in age-standardized rates of YLDs for malaria, HIV/AIDS, onchocerciasis, and schistosomiasis in the low-SDI [socio-demographic index] quintile”

(from Global Health Metrics; Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 328 diseases and injuries for 195 countries, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016

3. The Pediatric Praziquantel Consortium (website) has announced a joint GHIT & EDCTP funding of the Phase III clinical study on the paediatric praziquantel formulation. This excellent news means we are making great strides to attaining a suitable treatment for infants and pre-school aged children!

4. Research into integrating Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as well as health education and behaviour change in schistosomiasis control strategies are being developed and tested, particularly in Ethiopia where the WISER (Water Infrastructure for Schistosomiasis Endemic Regions) is testing feasible WASH solutions, and innovative environmental indicators for schistosomiasis control and elimination. In addition the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health together with Merck KGaA and the Nala Foundation announced a partnership implementing an integrated health education, community mobilisation and treatment approach to control schistosomiasis in the Bench Maji zone in southwest Ethiopia.

5. The WHO operational manual on snail control using molluscicide was published this year and two snail control training workshops were organised, one in west Africa and one in East Africa.  Furthermore a new NNN (NTD-NGO network) working group on Integrated Vector Control has been launched to advocate the integration of vector control in diseases control programmes and fitting in with the new NNN BEST (Behaviour, Environment, Social Inclusion, Treatment) framework.

6. On the 19th of October 2016 Merck KGaA donated its 500 millionth praziquantel tablet to the WHO (more here).  The Merck Praziquantel Donation Program started in 2007 and has since treated over 100million people. Merck KGaA has committed to donating up to 250 million tablets per year to the WHO, this donation includes tablets and delivery to the endemic country and has a value of approximately US$ 23 million per year!

GSA and our partners will be rolling up our sleeves to build on these achievements, ensuring that schistosomiasis is treated, prevented and reduced globally.

Working together we will #beatschisto.