The need to put poor people firstin the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)was a key messagefrom World Bank President, Jim Yong Kim at aNTDs Conference held in Washington last week.


"Protecting poor people from preventable diseases that cause acute suffering remains at the heart of our mission to end poverty and boost shared prosperity," said the World Bank President.


The conference, co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Bank, welcomed over 400 experts who had gathered to operationalise commitments initially made at the Gates hosted meeting in London earlier this year.
Committingto the London Declaration on NTDs



Deworming pill in child's hand


At the London meeting, pharmaceutical companies, four governments and a host of international organisations including the Gates Foundation, World Health Organization(WHO), the World Bank and numerous civil society organizations, united behind a common vision to control or eliminate the seven major preventable NTDs in endemic countries.


Affirming this union, pledges were made to the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases;to seenew collaborative efforts and tracking of progress,including the provision of 5.5 billion treatments for STH and schistosomiasis - NTDs which particularly impact on child health.
Acoordinated approach
Jim Yong Kimstressed the need for coordination to strengthen community health systems in the endemic countries through national health strategies that aim to reach every citizen with good quality health provision. "We can bring about great change by working together efficiently"he said.
Using the example ofthe significantstrides made infighting NTD, River Blindness he said, uniting "in a coordinated way saves lives and money, and requires expanding lessons that we have learned from our efforts to eliminate river blindness"”first, a simple community health system approach, and second, partnerships with pharmaceutical companies for free supply of drugs."
Yong Kim reflected that the fight against the disease -which is transmitted through flies that breed in river water, was alsowhere effortsto control and eliminate the other mainNTDs began. This fight, he described as a true success story was supported by many organizations and partners, including the WHOand the World Bank.


"Today, over 80 million people a year in Africa regularly receive drugs...Protection against disease is not just an investment in health, but an investment in the economy."


As river blindness has been controlled in large parts of West Africa, families have been able to return to 25 million hectares of arable land, with the capacity to grow enough crops to feed 17 million people.


Closing his speech, Yong Kim emphasised the World Bank’s support of coordination, "I believe that this conference on the preventable neglected tropical diseases will translate this conviction into results for the neglected people in this world."
Strengthening a school-based approach to prevention and treatment

Deworming pill in child's hand


At the conference thePartnership for Child Developmentco-organised a side meeting titled, Strengthening a School-Based Approach to Treatment and Prevention: A meeting of partners for STH and Schistosomiasis control.


Complimenting the wider aims of the conference the side eventreinforced the need for enhanced collaboration,and joined together over 40 organisations representing donors, technical partners, academia, government, pharmaceutical and health and education sectors.
Attendees were updated on the current status of control interventions beforediscussion ensued on what is needed for more effective collaboration in school-based deliveryfor scaled up STH and schistosomiasis control programmes.
Speakers at the side eventincluded (among others):
  • Dr Lesley Drake -Executive Director of PCD
  • Professor Sir Roy Anderson -Director of the London Centre for Neglected Tropical Disease Research
  • Professor Donald Bundy -Lead Specialist in School Health and Nutrition, World Bank
  • Peter Hotez -President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute
  • Dr Dirk Engels -Coordinator of the Preventive Chemotherapy & Transmission Control, World Health Organization.
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