The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) recently announced that it will immediately and almost completely eliminate its funding for neglected tropical disease (NTD) programs globally. Thss decision will negatively affect the lives of more than 100 million people across 22 African countries. NTDs are a group of parasitic, viral, and bacterial infections that affect more than 1.7 billion people worldwide, with 40% of the global burden in Africa. They include diseases such as intestinal worms, river blindness, and others that perpetuate a cycle of poverty, sickness and suffering. NTDs impede growth and development, result in absenteeism for school-aged children, and prevent adults from participating in the workforce. Scaling down on NTD funding can make vulnerable communities even more susceptible to these diseases and imperil the significant progress made thus far.
As a response to the ongoing crisis, the END Fund – the largest philanthropic organization dedicated to ending five of the most common NTDs – is hosting an urgent convening on June 1st to discuss how African leaders, in particular, can galvanize a groundswell of action to respond to the need on the continent. This is an opportunity for African leadership to chart a more sustainable way forward in this new chapter of ending preventable diseases and building resilient health systems.
“The global NTD sector is most definitely in a crisis as a result of the FCDO’s decision, and we know that this decision will affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Despite the challenge, we can use this present moment to effectively coordinate with relevant stakeholders around the logistical, political, and financial ripple effects of this new reality. We can also leverage the power of collaborative philanthropy in helping donors know where, when, and how to channel their support to have the biggest impact,” said Ellen Agler, CEO of the END Fund.
The FCDO decision has highlighted a central fact: philanthropy, the private sector, NGOs, and governments must work collaboratively to address global health crises and ensure more sustainable efforts to pursue disease elimination across the continent. The loss of a single major funding source should not threaten the significant progress made in tackling diseases like NTDs. This convening will give cross-sector stakeholders a chance to explore alternative funding mechanisms for achieving disease elimination goals. It will also facilitate a timely conversation on what this means for drugs that have already been delivered to countries preparing for mass drug administration campaigns. In an effort to sustain the progress made in ending NTDs, it is critical that local and global stakeholders build back better by finding innovative and sustainable solutions to bridge the immediate gap in global NTD funding.
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Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of END FUND.