The conclusion of the 2015 Group of 7 (G7) Summit, held June 7-8 in Schloss Elmau, Germany, offers promising news for the 1.8 billion people who are at risk from the crushing burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

While the G7 nations had a sweeping agenda, covering a huge number of pressing global challenges, we thank Chancellor Angela Merkel for her extraordinary leadership in prioritizing the problem of NTDs, thus devoting much needed attention and dialogue to an issue that affects the most vulnerable and neglected populations across the world.

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases (Global Network) enthusiastically applauds all G7 nations – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States – for their firm commitment to advance the fight against NTDs and to alleviate the misery of vulnerable and neglected populations by investing in prevention and control efforts as well as by supporting priority areas in research and development. The G7 Leaders’ Declaration also emphasized the importance of equal access to health services as part of their broader effort to strengthen health systems, including through community-based mechanisms – an approach that has proven to be highly successful in scaling up access to NTD treatments.

Equally important, the G7 will engage the health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and education communities to boost efforts to end malnutrition. Tackling NTDs through comprehensive approaches will help reach more people in need and ensure lasting impact. 

This year’s pledge builds on nearly two decades of G7 commitments to fight NTDs, dating as far back as the 1998 G7 Summit, which formally established the Japanese-led historic Hashimoto Initiative – the first international parasitic disease control initiative.

We are encouraged by the G7’s strong political commitment, but call on leaders to act swiftly to fulfil their promise to “invest in the prevention and control of NTDs in order to achieve 2020 elimination goals.” An immediate increase in financing for treatment and prevention programs is essential to build on decades of progress and strengthen momentum toward winning the fight against these devastating diseases of poverty. If the G7 mobilizes a relatively modest $220 million annually for NTD treatments through 2020, they could make it possible for hundreds of millions of people to move past years of neglect and look forward to a healthy, prosperous future.

Leadership by the G7 countries on this issue is not in isolation, however. Over 70 endemic countries globally have prioritized this issue by developing dedicated plans to fight NTDs. Further demonstrating endemic country leadership, dozens of health ministers have stepped forward to sign the Addis Ababa NTD Commitment, which institutionalizes the planning, coordination and critical domestic resources for NTDs.

One fact is very plain, however. The consequences of inaction would be tragic: one in six people across the world will continue to suffer unnecessarily from these disfiguring and debilitating diseases, held hostage in a cycle of poverty and inequality. Moreover, failure to act now will undermine the G7’s efforts to demonstrate their accountability and effectiveness as a group.

The Global Network is part of Uniting to Combat NTDs, a powerful collaboration made up of universities, NGOs, corporations, foundations and philanthropists, working in partnership with the World Health Organization to accelerate the fight against NTDs.

We stand ready to marshal the very best talent, resources and knowledge and experience, to work side by side with the G7 to end these diseases once and for all. This year, 2015, offers a pivotal moment for the G7 to make it possible to wrap up the unfinished NTD agenda and have an immediate, meaningful and sustainable impact, setting the stage for success as the world looks ahead to the new sustainable development goals.

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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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