Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) disproportionately affect people living in poverty, some of whom may be difficult to reach through traditional mass drug administration (MDA). We have attended the NTD NGO Network (NNN) conference for the past several years to share lessons from our work, and learn from our colleagues and partners in the NTD space. In September of this year, members of our global deworming team again participated in the conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and convened a workshop titled Increasing inclusion of hard-to-reach groups using lessons and strategies from within and outside the NTD community.
What does it take to become a global leader in tackling debilitating parasitic worms in children? Speed and willingness to learn from other countries who have already done it.
This is the story of Ethiopia where in January of this year, the Federal Ministry of Health announced a national school-based deworming program that will treat over 80% of at-risk children for parasitic worms (namely, soil-transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis) by 2020. In the course of the next five years, the Ministry of Health will collaborate with teachers and health extension workers to distribute over 100 million worm treatments to at-risk children in all corners of this vast country.
Today, Evidence Action, together with more than 90 other organizations, co-signed an open letter to the leaders of the G7 countries to urge them to support ending neglected tropical diseases including parasitic worms. Despite growing awareness about the human and economic costs of neglected tropical diseases, there is a $220 million global annual funding gap for treatment. This stands in the way of reaching the 2020 treatment targets the World Health Organization has established. Read the letter here.