The Global Network was a leading voice for increased appropriations to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) NTD Program. What began with an appropriation of $15 million the year of the Global Network’s founding has grown into the largest source of funding for NTD treatment worldwide, with $686 million allocated as of 2016 to deliver 1.6 billion treatments to more than 743 million individuals across 31 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The Global Network built support for the program within the United States Congress and the Administration through the following activities:
- The Global Network co-chaired the NTD Roundtable for several years, convening different advocacy stakeholders to coordinate efforts for maximum impact.
- We successfully advocated for the addition of NTDs to the Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Senate Caucus on Malaria, which were subsequently renamed the Congressional Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases and Senate Caucus on Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases, respectively.
- Our experts testified several times before key subcommittees of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs and Committee on Appropriations.
- The annual NTD Student Advocacy Day brought young advocates to Washington, D.C. for nearly 100 constituent meetings with key congressional offices to protect funding for the USAID NTD Program.
The Global Network program supported European regional policy advocacy in partnership with Sabin Foundation Europe, Sabin’s UK sister organization. With support from Global Network, Sabin Foundation Europe worked to mobilize UK Government leadership and increased political will for NTD efforts. This included the coordination of advocacy activities through the UK Coalition on NTDs and All-Party Parliamentary Group for Malaria and NTDs, development of policy briefing papers and annual reports, parliamentary engagement and direct engagement with the Department for International Development. In 2011, the UK Government announced a five-fold increase to its NTD budget, followed by a doubling of NTD investments in 2017 to £360 million through 2022.
Germany has been a world leader in global health and tropical medicine research and programming for more than 150 years. In 2005, Germany’s international development agency and the World Health Organization convened a landmark conference in Berlin to accelerate the control and elimination of the most common NTDs through an integrated treatment package. In the following decade, many partners joined the effort to implement the treatment strategy conceived in Berlin. In 2014, the Global Network supported the launch of the German Neglected Tropical Diseases Network to coordinate advocacy activities among NTD partners based in the country. The Global Network supported parliamentary events, one-on-one meetings with policymakers and stakeholders and media outreach to increase public awareness of the global NTD burden and build advocacy support for German investment in the control and elimination effort. In advance of the 2015 G7 Summit hosted by Germany, the Global Network facilitated the first-ever G7 Heads of State letter sent by the NTD community. The resulting Leaders’ Declaration included the clear commitment to “invest in the prevention and control of NTDs in order to achieve 2020 elimination goals” through research and development, disease mapping and community-based health systems strengthening. During the time that the Global Network was actively engaged in advocacy in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Minister of Health Hermann Gröhe highlighted NTDs in several high-profile speeches, signaling increased political commitment to the cause, in keeping with Germany’s proud legacy of leadership in global health and tropical medicine.
India is home to 34% of the people in the world affected by NTDs, making the country a key partner in the global control and elimination effort. The Global Network engaged with stakeholders in several Indian states with a high burden of disease to ensure that NTD commitments made at the national level were supported politically and programmatically at the state level. We also advocated for greater coordination between India’s lymphatic filariasis and soil-transmitted helminth programs to maximize efficiency and resource investment. To build public awareness of NTDs and increase participation in treatment campaigns, the Global Network worked with India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ogilvy and Little Lamb Productions to produce a Cannes Silver Lion award-winning video and promotional materials, Hathipaon Mukt Bharat (Filaria Free India) to promote one of the largest mass drug administration campaigns in history, which aimed to reach 300 million people with preventive medicine for lymphatic filariasis. The Global Network also coordinated with the Indian government and partners to arrange a site visit for Indian journalists to learn about the disease and produce stories to spread awareness and encourage compliance.
The Global Network worked to increase political and financial support for NTD programs in Nigeria, which accounts for 25% of Africa’s NTD burden – the largest of any country on the continent. We worked to sustain and increase state government commitments to NTD control, support NTD advocacy meetings and raise the profile of NTDs among key national and state-level stakeholders during a time of political transition.