WASHINGTON, D.C. — October 21, 2014 — The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (Global Network) today released a policy brief, Toward a Healthy Future: Working Together to End Neglected Tropical Diseases and Malnutrition, which explores the relationship between neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and malnutrition and the actions needed to address both. The document reflects the views and expertise of a wide range of experts from the NTD, nutrition and broader development communities and serves as a resource to policymakers, advocates and program implementers.

This report analyzes the evidence linking NTDs to childhood growth deficits, micronutrient deficiencies and poor pregnancy outcomes and highlights best practices in increasing access to NTD treatments alongside efforts to improve nutrition to ensure lasting impact. It outlines opportunities for global policymakers and development partners to expand access to NTD and nutrition interventions by identifying synergies in policies, leveraging delivery platforms and fostering greater cross-sector collaboration.

“Controlling NTDs is an important part of improving nutrition, and vice versa. It is no surprise, then, that coordinated efforts to address both will improve health outcomes in a cost-effective and sustainable manner,” said Global Network Managing Director Dr. Neeraj Mistry.

The brief calls for international policymakers and advocates to:

  • Recognize the impacts of NTDs and malnutrition and the clear benefits of addressing these issues in tandem.
  • Expand access to routine deworming treatments for all populations at risk, including pre-school- and school-aged children, women of childbearing age and pregnant women through existing treatments and delivery platforms.
  • Include deworming as a strategy to improve health and nutrition for mothers and children
  • Ensure sustainability by simultaneously investing in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and other social determinants of health.
  • Increase resources and link policies that facilitate joint programming and partnerships
  • Mobilize greater political and financial support for NTDs and malnutrition during international and regional fora.

‘’In poor countries, school meals are often the only regular and nutritious meals a child receives, acting as an investment in the child’s future. Without them, hunger and micronutrient deficiencies can cause irreversible damage to their growing brains and bodies,” said Peter Rodrigues, Chief of the World Food Programme’s School Feeding and Chronic Hunger Unit. “When school meals are combined with deworming and micronutrient fortification, the investment in a child’s future is multiplied. Hunger and poor nutrition cause delayed childhood growth, and NTDs exacerbate these conditions. Regular deworming reduces both the morbidity caused by these infections and the occurrence of severe complications. By augmenting nutrition interventions with deworming treatments just once a year, we have the opportunity to improve children’s chances of growing and learning.’’

Dr. Mistry also noted, “Policymakers in both donor and endemic countries, as well as program implementers and advocates, must continue to prioritize and push for cross-sector collaboration to improve health and nutrition and meet our broader development and poverty reduction objectives. Enhancing this type of cross-sector collaboration will define a new paradigm in development.”

Click here for the full brief.

About the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is an advocacy initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute that works in partnership with international agencies, governments, academic institutions, corporations, non-governmental development organizations and the general public to raise the awareness, political will and funding necessary to control and eliminate the seven most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020. For more information, please visit www.globalnetwork.org.

About Sabin Vaccine Institute

Sabin Vaccine Institute is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers, and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering caused by vaccine preventable and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin works with governments, leading public and private organizations, and academic institutions to provide solutions for some of the world's most pervasive health challenges. Since its founding in 1993 in honor of the oral polio vaccine developer, Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the Institute has been at the forefront of efforts to control, treat and eliminate these diseases by developing new vaccines, advocating use of existing vaccines and promoting increased access to affordable medical treatments. For more information please visit www.sabin.org.