On Oct. 30, 2015, delegations from the ministries of health of the BRICS member states — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — gathered in Moscow, Russia, for the Fifth BRICS Health Ministers’ Meeting. The ministers discussed NTDs and made a resolution to “strive for achieving the Global 2020 NTD control and elimination goals, for universal coverage of everyone in need by 2030.”

This pledge renewed earlier commitments on NTDs by the BRICS countries and could have an outsized effect on relieving the suffering of those affected by NTDs. In addition to the strong new commitment at the health ministers’ meeting, each of the member countries has been implementing programs to combat NTDs at home that serve as powerful models for other nations. Now, with the BRICS’ plan to develop health working groups, they could come together to pool their resources and expertise from lessons learned in fighting NTDs at home, resulting in a regional and global spillover effect.

For example, India runs the largest mass drug administration for lymphatic filariasis in the world, reaching 400 million people in 2015, and has recently instituted National Deworming Day, an integrated platform to deworm millions of schoolchildren of soil-transmitted helminths. South Africa pledged this year to deworm 7 million schoolchildren, and China has a new 10-year plan against schistosomiasis.

Moreover, the BRICS emphasize a spirit of community and collaboration through their south-south cooperation projects. Russia has provided assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States and to several African nations in their efforts against NTDs, and Brazil is currently working with Venezuela to eliminate river blindness from their shared border — its last known foothold in the Americas.

Reflecting this, the ministers also emphasized the need for a continued focus on equity in healthcare access, highlighted the interdependence between public health and socioeconomic development, and “reiterated the impact of foreign policy on health outcomes which should be reflected accordingly in national and international priorities.” The health ministers also voiced their support for the newly-adopted Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Target 3, which includes NTDs.

The BRICS have made several recent political commitments to fight NTDs: initially at the Fourth Health Ministers Meeting in Brasilia, Brazil in December 2014, and then at the Heads of State Summit in Ufa, Russia, in July 2015. This rapid mainstreaming of NTDs in the BRICS global health agenda reflects their overarching priority of sustainable, inclusive development.

With the BRICS’ continued attention to international health cooperation projects as a method to reduce inequality and spur inclusive development, we are confident that, as a group, they will continue to make significant progress against NTDs. Russia has shown strong leadership in global health cooperation as president of the BRICS in 2015, and the Global Network looks forward to continued progress when India assumes the presidency in February 2016.

For more information, please see the Global Network’s statement on the BRICS’ Ufa Declaration and the BRICS policy page.

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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. 

About the Sabin Vaccine Institute

The Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization of scientists, researchers and advocates dedicated to reducing needless human suffering from vaccine-preventable and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Since its founding in 1993 in honor of Dr. Albert B. Sabin, the developer of the oral polio vaccine, Sabin has been at the forefront of global efforts to eliminate, prevent and cure infectious and neglected tropical diseases. Sabin develops new vaccines, advocates for increased use of existing vaccines and promotes expanded access to affordable medical treatments in collaboration with governments, academic institutions, scientists, medical professionals and other non-profit organizations. For more information, please visit www.sabin.org.

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