It’s been five years since the Sabin Vaccine Institute launched the END7 campaign to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

To reach Vaupés province in Colombia, you have two options: by boat or by plane.

Early on a beautiful spring morning in the nation’s capital, a group of Georgetown University undergraduates gathered on the corner of First Street and Constitution Avenue, far from their textbooks and thoughts of their looming final exams. Their unusual study break? A day of meetings with congressional offices to advocate against cuts to critical U.S. government funding for global health.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are the most common affliction of the world’s poorest people. Thriving in communities that lack access to health services, adequate sanitation and clean water, NTDs blind, disable and disfigure, trapping families in a cycle of poverty and disease.

What the poor suffer from most happens in developed countries

While rarely talked about, Neglected Tropical Diseases are the most widespread ailment among the world's poorest of the poor – yet also ironically the most prevalent in top global economies, experts say.

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are “the most important diseases you've never heard of. These are the most common afflictions of the world's poor,” Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, told CNA Nov. 11.

Catholic News Agency
More than 500 leading scientific researchers, Catholic officials and policy makers from around the globe gathered at the Vatican on November 10-12, 2016, to address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and rare diseases. The Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, which was established by Pope John Paul II to help coordinate the Vatican’s health care related activities, convened the conference. Sabin Vaccine Institute President Dr. Peter Hotez gave the keynote address on NTDs. At the conclusion of the conference, remarks from Pope Francis were shared with conference participants. These remarks highlighted how the effort to control and eliminate NTDs aligns with the Catholic Church’s social teachings, and called for international commitment to treating and preventing NTDs and rare diseases. The complete transcript of Pope Francis’s remarks are below.

Pope Francis, Sabin President Discuss Goals of the Catholic Church during Conference on Neglected Tropical Diseases

Vatican City – November 10, 2016 –Peter Hotez, M.D., Ph.D., president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute (Sabin) and director of the Sabin Product Development Partnership (Sabin PDP), today will help kick off the first-ever Vatican conference on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and rare diseases with a keynote address.

Sabin Vaccine Institute President Dr. Peter Hotez gave the keynote address on NTDs at the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers’ XXXI International Conference, focused on NTDs and rare diseases.

River blindness, also known as onchocerciasis, has endangered Guatemalan’s eyesight since at least 1915. Last month, however, just over a century after the country’s first onchocerciasis diagnosis, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease officially eliminated from the Land of Eternal Spring.

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