Industry, NGOs Share Joint Progress on Neglected Tropical Disease Control
Successful Public-Private Partnerships Hope to Encourage Increased Private and Public Sector Participation
BERLIN, Sept. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Global health advocates and the pharmaceutical industry came together to discuss strategies for improved collaboration and increased private sector involvement in neglected tropical disease (NTD) treatment and control programs. During a workshop in Berlin, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Verband der forschenden Pharma-Unternehmen (vfa), Merck KGaA, Merck & Co., Inc., Eisai Co. Ltd., Bayer HealthCare, Sanofi, the British Parliament and the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases exchanged new ideas and called for expanded partnerships in order to meet WHO's target to control and eliminate the most common NTDs by 2020.
NTDs infect more than 1.4 billion people around the world, including 500 million children, and carry a higher health burden than malaria and tuberculosis. NTDs can have severe effects including blindness, massive swelling in appendages and limbs, severe malnutrition, anemia and pregnancy complications. They are a key contributor to poverty, as they reduce school attendance among children and worker productivity for adults. In recent years, civil society organizations, governments and the private sector have taken steps to raise awareness about NTDs and increase support for research and development efforts to improve treatment methods.
"Since the first program for the control and elimination of river blindness in Africa and the Americas started in 1987, a number of programs and campaigns have made visible progress in controlling NTDs. Drug donations from research-based pharmaceutical companies have played a crucial role in this progress," stated Cornelius Erbe, Director of Strategy and International Affairs of the Verband der forschenden Pharma-Unternehmen (vfa). "As part of the January 2012 'London Declaration,' our industry has made far-reaching pledges to support control or even elimination of at least ten NTDs by 2020. And companies are developing a growing number of new vaccines and drugs for NTDs within product development partnerships."
The workshop evaluated progress made since the "London Declaration," including drug donations from pharmaceutical companies, donor government support for NTD programs and new research and development initiatives. The group also discussed the need for new partnerships between the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in order to create treatment models that will ultimately allow endemic countries to manage their NTD programs.
"Drug donations and research and development support from pharmaceutical companies are just the beginning of a comprehensive collaboration between the private sector, NGOs and country governments to meet our 2020 elimination targets," said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, managing director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases. "We are at the precipice of a global health movement that will improve the lives of millions, but we will need support from both the public and private sector to take that next step forward."
To conclude the events, His Excellency John A. Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana (2001-2009), and Chairman of the African Union (2007-2008) was featured as the evening keynote speaker. Kufuor was appointed NTD Special Envoy for the Global Network in April 2012. Through this role, Kufuor serves to elevate the fight against NTDs among development partners, such as the governments of Germany, Norway, and the United States, to encourage them to incorporate NTD control into existing global health or cross-sectoral development programs.
"Today's event reminds us that great progress has already been made in the work to eliminate NTDs," said Kufuor. "The current partnerships among civil society groups, multilateral organizations, governments and the private sector will serve as a roadmap moving forward and will support further engagement by the private sector—beyond the pharmaceutical companies— in NTD programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America."
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and the German Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa, Verband der forschenden Pharma-Unternehmen) hosted Thursday's events. To learn more about the program or NTDs or for a photograph of John A. Kufuor visit www.globalnetwork.org or www.vfa.de/pm20120928.
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, scientists, program implementers and development organizations to raise the awareness, political will and funding necessary to control and eliminate the seven most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.
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
About Verband der forschenden Pharma-Unternehmen (vfa)
The vfa, the Association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (vfa), is the trade organization of research-based pharmaceutical companies in Germany. 44 leading research-based pharmaceutical companies are organized in the vfa. Together with their more than 100 subsidiaries and affiliated companies, they employ nearly 90,000 people in Germany.
SOURCE Sabin Vaccine Institute