Merkel, Health Ministers Reaffirm Commitment to Fight NTDs at 68th World Health Assembly
The Global Network was extremely encouraged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech at the 68th World Health Assembly (WHA) this month. In her remarks, Chancellor Merkel outlined her global health priorities, including dealing with catastrophes like Ebola, as well as fighting antimicrobial resistance and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Her statements reflect the health-related agenda items Germany has laid out for the upcoming G7 Summit taking place on June 7-8.
In addition, at a WHA side event in Geneva, health ministers from nearly two dozen predominantly African countries reaffirmed their support for the Addis Ababa NTD Commitment. This pledge, endorsed in December 2014, was designed to increase domestic investment, promote multisectoral approaches, encourage adoption of data-driven, long-term strategic plans and ensure mutual support of NTD programs and overall health systems.
“In a time of resource scarcity, our collective commitment to the world’s poorest communities should not wane,” said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network. “As the traditional donor-supported model becomes more challenging, the Addis Ababa NTD Commitment heralds a new dimension for development. This commitment solidifies the partnership and co-investment necessary from endemic and donor countries to defeat the global threat of NTDs.”
Today, nearly 1.8 billion people, including more than 800 million children, are at risk from NTDs and require treatment. These debilitating diseases affect the world’s poorest and most marginalized people. These diseases directly affect children’s nutrition status, school attendance, and cognitive and physical development; the health of pregnant women and their newborns; and increase the likelihood of contracting HIV. Beyond health, NTDs severely undercut economic growth, educational achievement and gender equality.
The Global Network applauds Chancellor Merkel’s focus on the problem of NTDs and the growing engagement by endemic countries evidenced by the Addis Ababa NTD Commitment to control and eliminate NTDs. However, reaching the ambitious goals outlined in the WHO 2020 Roadmap will require a strong joint effort from endemic and donor countries alike. With an eye toward the G7 Summit, we encourage G7 leaders to go beyond their political commitments by raising an additional annual investment of $220 million over the next five years; these resources will enable endemic countries to scale up access to treatments through mass drug administration and multi-sector approaches.
Moreover, we continue to urge all UN Member States and other stakeholders engaged in the post-2015 process to ensure that the final Sustainable Development Goals and corresponding framework include specific indicators for NTDs. Without clear mileposts, future financing to defeat NTDs once and for all will remain at risk.
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.