Federal Spending Package Includes Bill to Boost Fight Against Neglected Tropical Diseases
Statement from Jamie Bay Nishi, Director of the Global Health Technologies Coalition, on the passage of the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act, which was included in H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, passed by Congress on December 19, 2019.
The passage of the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act—included in a federal spending package passed by both chambers of Congress this week—will strengthen US efforts to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). We applaud Congress for recognizing that putting an end to these devastating diseases, which impact the world’s poorest people, will require the discovery of new drugs, vaccines, and other health technologies to prevent and treat these threats.
One in seven people worldwide is affected by at least one NTD, including vulnerable people here in the United States. Yet of the 17 priority NTDs identified by the legislation, only five are considered “tool-ready” by health authorities—meaning we have low-cost, effective interventions to control them. Likewise, no preventive vaccines exist for 16 of the 17 diseases—underscoring the urgent need for new innovations and deepening the US Agency for International Development’s (USAID) nascent support for NTD research and development (R&D).
The legislation directs USAID, through its NTD Program, to continue investments in R&D of new tools and approaches to control and eliminate NTDs, as well as to ensure that research breakthroughs are incorporated into existing programming to reach individuals in need. Given the program’s tremendous global footprint in supporting mass drug administration to prevent and treat many NTDs, USAID has a unique and vital charge to support the development and deployment of new and improved tools.
We look forward to working with the supporters of this legislation to ensure the bill’s vision for NTD R&D is realized and adequately funded in the years ahead so we can end these horrible scourges.
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The End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act addresses 17 diseases that collectively afflict more than 1 billion people, who often live in the most impoverished communities in tropical and subtropical countries. The 17 NTDs include:
- Buruli ulcer (Mycobacterium ulcerans infection)
- Chagas disease
- dengue or severe dengue fever
- dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)
- foodborne trematodiases
- human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
- lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis)
- onchocerciasis (river blindness)
- soil-transmitted helminthiases (STH) (roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm)
- yaws (endemic treponematoses)
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