BIOPHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY CALLS ON WORLD LEADERS TO END THE NEGLECT OF NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES
London, United Kingdom, 25 June 2020 – Members of the biopharmaceutical industry were among those at a global event calling on world leaders not to forget the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) - which affect one in five people on the planet.
The virtual event, hosted by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, will called on country leaders and policy makers to remember more than 1.7 billion people affected by NTDs and continue the commitment set out in the 2012 London Declaration on NTDs which comes to an end this year.
Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers, Thomas Cueni, is speaking at today’s inaugural event. He says: “Interventions in Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) represent some of the largest public health interventions globally, and the innovative biopharmaceutical industry has always been an active partner throughout. We welcome the new road map from the WHO, and believe it plays an important role in reiterating the importance of tackling NTDs as a global health priority.
“This year, we celebrated the first-ever World NTD Day and I am pleased to see that R&D investment by multinational biopharmaceutical companies reached its highest-ever level. However, we are far from having all the tools we need to control and eliminate NTDs. We need to keep investing in R&D to ensure new generations of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics as well as technologies to control transmission are discovered. Beyond R&D, our industry is committed to continue to assist countries in building strong and resilient health systems that are accessible and staffed with qualified healthcare workers, along with helping to bolster the supply chain and facilitating the delivery of quality, affordable medicines and vaccines."
In support of the event today, videos were sent from Bayer, Merck, Eisai, Sanofi, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis. These can be viewed at https://powerthepartnership.unitingtocombatntds.org/ along with a short film on the supply chain by the NTD Supply Chain Forum.
Since the London Declaration on NTDs was signed in 2012, historic progress has been to control, eliminate and eradicate NTDs that are treated through regular preventive chemotherapy (PC) via Mass Drug Administration (MDA).
Since the London Declaration on NTDs was signed in 2012:
- 32 countries have successfully eliminated at least one NTD including Malawi*, Yemen, Ghana and Togo
- 12 pharmaceutical companies have donated 12 billion treatments that have reached some of the world’s most vulnerable people to help defeat neglected tropical diseases
- A new Guinness World Record was set for the most medicines ever donated in a 24 hour period (Jan 2017). In just one day over 200 million medicines were delivered across 6 countries
- Today, more than 500 million people no longer need to be treated for NTDs.
Dr Mwelecele Ntuli Malecela, Director, WHO Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, believes it is more vital than ever not to lose focus. “WHO is committed to working with every partner to ensure access to quality-assured, effective and safe medicines, and diagnostics. But if we want to accomplish what we are envisioning for 2030, donation of medicines can only be one, albeit important, part of the puzzle. It is time we adopt a coherent and comprehensive approach across diseases, involving every sector in a more effective cross-cutting manner. The new WHO road map will help reshape our collaboration as we move forward. We need the industry to be part of our new vision towards 2030.”
This collaborative approach is a vision that is shared by Chair of the Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Board, Mona Hammami. “We believe that over the next ten years we can put an end to many diseases of poverty. Since the London Declaration was signed we have made historic eliminations in 32 countries but COVID-19 represents a significant challenge for all sectors working in global health. It has drawn global attention to the need to protect people from major health crises. With support from world leaders, dedicated partners and continued donations from the pharmaceutical industry we can ensure the progress of the last eight years does not halt.”
Director, Uniting to Combat NTDs Secretariat, Thoko Elphick-Pooley, adds: “As we are seeing throughout the world, a strong, supported health workforce is essential to cope with pandemics like Covid-19. By protecting the world’s most vulnerable people, we contribute to a more just and equal world. While research into a Covid-19 vaccine is paramount, it is crucial to start thinking about it’s equitable access and to ensure that the poorest people will not be forgotten from this new vaccine but also from treatments that already exist. NTDs and the people they affect, are already neglected; we need to make sure they are not completely forgotten.”
Full details of CATALYZING COLLABORATIONS IN SUPPORT OF A NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASE-FREE WORLD can be found at https://bit.ly/3eQ90CN
Together, we are harder to ignore - Join global pledge to #EndTheNeglect
*Malawi elimination of LF was spoken about on the WHO webinar 17 June (awaiting WHO official announcement)
For more information please go to https://powerthepartnership.unitingtocombatntds.org/ or contact: Pinky@unitingtocombatntds.org