The BRICS countries ― Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa ― are a group of emerging economies distinguished by their growing influence in regional and global affairs. The BRICS countries have shown leadership in their drive to advance international health cooperation, deepen humanitarian interaction, and expand socioeconomic opportunity through equitable development.

Many of the BRICS countries have been successful in controlling and eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) within their own borders, providing them with the opportunity to share their expertise with other endemic countries, particularly as they increase their international cooperation efforts and expand their role on the world stage.

BRICS Health Ministers have been meeting since 2011 to discuss health systems strengthening, research and development, and other topics.

At the Fourth BRICS Health Ministers Meeting, held in Brasília, Brazil, on December 4th 2014, the Health Ministers “highlighted that many of these diseases are related to poverty and to the lack of access to information, and the suffering of millions of people can be prevented by the implementation of simple measures. The Ministers agreed to the promotion of cooperation between countries, including the establishment of intersectoral policies to improve access to medicines.” This is the first time NTDs have been included in a BRICS communiqué. 

In 2015, NTDs were elevated to the BRICS’ head of state level for the first time. Held in Ufa, Russia, the 7th BRICS Summit took place in July 2015 and showcased the BRICS high-level commitment to the fight against NTDs. In the Ufa Declaration, BRICS heads of state pledged “compliance with commitments to stop the spread of, and eradicate, communicable diseases that hamper development (HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, “neglected” tropical diseases, poliomyelitis, measles)” as well as “research, development, production and supply of medicines aimed at providing increased access to prevention and treatment of communicable diseases.”

The BRICS have also recently established the New Development Bank (NDB), a multilateral development bank designed to enhance cooperation between the five emerging markets. Initially, the NDB will largely fund infrastructure projects in the BRICS countries, which could include clean water and sanitation projects that help stop the cycle of NTDs in impoverished communities, alongside treatment efforts.

The BRICS have a natural role to play in tackling NTDs, and the Global Network encourages the BRICS to explore ways to share their experiences and knowledge in fighting NTDs through South-South cooperation efforts and by drawing attention to NTDs during their policy discussions. You can read more about the BRICS and NTDs in the Global Network’s article, published in the Bulletin of the WHO, "BRICS in the response to neglected tropical diseases."

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