Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases
|Founder||Sabin Vaccine Institute|
|Focus||Neglected Tropical Diseases|
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is an advocacy initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)—a group of disabling, disfiguring, and deadly diseases affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day.
The Global Network provides an advocacy platform for the broad NTD community that reaches the attention of policymakers, philanthropists, thought leaders, and the general public. Through that platform, the Global Network highlights the work—including implementation, research, advocacy, and policy efforts—of the NTD community at the local, national, and international levels.
The Global Network collaborates closely with the World Health Organization and other technical agencies, NGOs, donors, and the broader public health community; together they support international organizations, governments, and afflicted communities that work through regional strategies to advocate for and implement NTD control and elimination programs.
At the September 2006 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, former U.S. President Bill Clinton announced the launch of The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases—the first-ever global effort to combat NTDs in an integrated framework. At the time, NTD control was seen as a monumental task, with 1.4 billion people infected with and suffering from NTDs around the world. Over the last decade, several organizations on the ground had made significant progress on individual diseases, but reaching more people in need of treatment in a cost-effective way required an integrated approach to combating NTDs collectively.
In the years since the Global Network launched, it has experienced significant growth as it deepens its commitment to fighting NTDs around the world through resource mobilization and advocacy efforts. Simultaneously, through the work of Global Network collaborators, hundreds of millions of the world’s poorest people are currently receiving a low-cost rapid-impact package of essential NTD drugs, enabling them to break out of a devastating cycle of poverty and disease. 
Neglected tropical diseases
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 13 parasitic and bacterial infections that infect approximately 1.4 billion of the world’s poorest people in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and South East Asia. Together, they disable, disfigure, blind, and even kill, causing chronic morbidity that is on par with the “big three” global health threats: HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The Global Network focuses on the seven most common NTDs that together represent 90% of the total NTD disease burden. These seven are:
- Ascariasis (roundworm) – 807 million infected
- Trichuriasis (whipworm) – 604 million infected
- Hookworm – 576 million infected
- Schistosomiasis (snail fever) – 207 million infected
- Lymphatic Filariasis (elephantiasis) – 120 million infected
- Trachoma (blinding trachoma) – 84 million infected
- Onchocerciasis (river blindness) – 37 million infected
An integrated treatment approach, known as the rapid-impact package, treats the seven most common NTDs through a combination of four drugs.
In recent decades, the pharmaceutical industry has amassed an impressive track record of partnering with non-governmental organizations on large-scale treatment campaigns for NTDs. The drug donations themselves are valued at over US $1 billion and represent the largest drug donations in history. The few drugs that are not donated* are available at very low costs.
|Donor company||Drug donation||Disease treated|
|Merck & Co.||Mectizan (ivermectin)||Onchocerciasis and Lymphatic Filariasis|
|GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)||Albendazole||Lymphatic Filariasis (also can be used to treat Ascariasis, Hookworm, and Trichuriasis)|
|Johnson & Johnson (J&J)||Mebendazole||Ascariasis|
*Diethylcarbamazine (DEC), one drug used to treat lymphatic filariasis, is not donated.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers have greatly increased the feasibility of control efforts by donating most of the drugs needed to treat the seven most common NTDs. This philanthropy reduces programmatic costs and enhances sustainability at the country level. In fact, long-term partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry allow Global Network members to provide the rapid-impact package at a cost of approximately 50 cents per person, per year.
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases raises the profile of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and builds support for control and elimination activities through our efforts to educate, advocate, catalyze, and convene. It highlights efforts underway in the field, and connects global players and afflicted communities to increase access to vital medicines that can stop these illnesses and lift the world’s poorest people out of poverty. It works through three primary tracks:
- Advocacy and policy: The network raises the profile of NTDs among policymakers, thought leadership, and the general public to foster the collective will to take action and support the control and elimination of these diseases. It works with the broader NTD and global health communities to educate policymakers, providing them timely, useful information so that they can develop and champion legislation around NTDs more effectively. Through communications efforts, it spotlights the leaders and pioneers of the NTD community, from community drug distributors to scientists to the donors supporting the programs. It works to ensure that the general public is aware of NTDs and is inspired to take action.
- Resource mobilization: The network engages the donor community to increase and sustain investments in NTD control and elimination efforts. It believes every donor—a citizen, a corporation, or a government—can make a difference in ending the neglect. It works diligently to match donors with projects wherein their investments can have the greatest impact, and also works with donors new to the global health space by demonstrating how their interests can align with our programs.
- Global coordination: Through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the network galvanizes support around a global campaign to control and eliminates the most common diseases of poverty. A central component of the grant and campaign is the formation of regional NTD trust funds and cross-regional working groups, designed to form financing mechanisms to raise and efficiently disburse funds to affected communities.
Through a cost-effective approach, NTD control represents a “best buy” in public health, and—especially in this time of global economic constraint—a key mechanism by which it can achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. The Global Network also offers a new model for global health, coordinating the actions of a diverse group of allies and crafting effective strategies that empower countries and affected communities to take a lead role in eliminating these diseases. The Global Network relies on best practices from the private sector to ensure that these strategies are implemented effectively, and that results are measured consistently.
The Global Network and its members have worked in Washington, D.C. and beyond to generate momentum in the push to establish NTDs as a critical policy issue in global health.
February 2008: U.S. President George W. Bush announces 5-year, $350 million commitment to fight NTDs in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
July 2008: For the first time ever, NTDs are placed on the agenda at the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan
September 2008: British Department for International Development (DFID) announces a £50 million commitment to control and eliminate guinea worm and a number of other common NTDs.
September 2008: U.S. President Bill Clinton calls Sabin President Dr. Peter Hotez on stage with him and Gordon Brown at the closing plenary session of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. President Clinton highlights the work of the Global Network and recommends that those listening donate to NTD control.
April 2009: U.S. President Barack Obama unveils new Global Health Initiative, which calls for the control and elimination of NTDs as one of four critical global health pillars.
July 2009: Leaders at the G8 Summit in L’Acquilla, Italy state: “We will implement further efforts towards universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010…We will combine this with actions to: combat TB and Malaria; address the spread of Neglected Tropical Diseases and work towards completing the task of polio eradication.” July 2009: U.S. President Obama discusses NTDs in his keynote speech in Ghana during his first trip to Africa.
February 2010: The Obama Administration unveils the 2011 United States federal budget and the details of the Global Health Initiative, including a budget of $155 million for NTDs, a 138% increase over the previous year.
January 2012: Leaders from 13 pharmaceutical companies, governments of the United States, United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and other global health organizations gathered at the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases meeting to announce their support for eliminating 10 NTDs by 2020.
The END7 campaign, launched in January 2012 by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, aims to raise the public awareness and funding required to cover the cost of distributing medicine and setting up treatment programmes for NTDs. It is the first comprehensive public awareness campaign dedicated to NTD treatment and elimination and relies heavily on visual content disseminated through various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to spread its message.
A number of high-profile individuals have donated their time, energy, and in some cases money to assist the Global Network and the END7 Campaign in raising the profile of and treating NTDs:
In June 2007, Alyssa Milano became the Global Network's first ambassador. Milano, an actress and active philanthropist, was introduced to the Global Network through her involvement with the Clinton Global Initiative. Upon hearing a panel discussion on NTDs that included Dr. Peter Hotez (President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute) and former President Jimmy Carter, she pledged to dedicate time, effort and funds to promote advocacy, policy and partnerships in the global fight against NTDs.
Milano's first action as ambassador was to pledge $250,000 to the Global Network. The Global Network and its member organizations used Milano's first-year donation to develop a full-scale implementation program to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in Myanmar. More specifically, 12 million tablets of DEC, an antiparasitic drug that is part of the rapid-impact package, were purchased to treat 4 million individuals. In 2008, Milano’s second-year donation went toward the purchase of DEC to treat LF in Haiti. Her donation will allow for the treatment of over one-third of Haiti’s entire population.
In April 2012, British actor Tom Felton became an END7 Campaign Ambassador. As an ambassador for the END7 campaign, Felton is helping to raise public awareness about these devastating diseases of poverty that infect one in six people worldwide, including 500 million children.
Indian actor Abhishek Bachchan became an END7 Campaign Ambassador in 2014. Since India has around 35% of all cases of the seven targeted diseases, his participation is key in spreading awareness on the subcontinent.
Gates Foundation support
The Global Network is a recipient of two major Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grants that help shape the goals and direction of its NTD advocacy efforts:
Grant 1: $3.8 million over 3 years (2/2008 - 2/2011)
- Build awareness of NTDs among key influencers, highlighting both the devastating effects of the diseases and effectiveness of the “rapid-impact” approach.
- Strengthen advocacy and resource mobilization capacity of the Global Network and NTD stakeholders
- Provide on-going scientific evidence to continue to establish that NTDs contribute to poverty and negatively impact educational and economic development.
Grant 2: $34 million over 5 years (1/2009 – 1/2014)
- Build three regional financial and grant making platforms, as well as global coordinating mechanisms
- Leverage an additional $200 million toward NTD control and elimination by 2020, treating no less than 230 million individuals over five years.
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases was founded in 2006 by six organizations who strive to better the lives of disadvantaged populations. These organizations are: Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, The Earth Institute Columbia University, Helen Keller International, International Trachoma Initiative, Schistosomiasis Control Initiative and The Task Force for Global Health. Global Network collaborates with many other organizations and individuals to provide life-changing health solutions to millions of people worldwide.
- Madhuri R, Sudeep SG, Sunila RK, et al. Oral Drug Therapy for Multiple Neglected Tropical Diseases. A Systematic Review. JAMA. 2007;298(16):1911-1924
- Rajagopal, Divya (11 February 2014). "Abhishek Bachchan to promote campaign on tropical diseases". Economic Times.