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USAID's NTD Program
USAID's NTD Program

About the Neglected Tropical Disease Program

  Photo of two boys standing in a marsh.
  Two boys stand in a pool of water near their home in Uganda. Standing water and irrigation streams are home to the snails that carry schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, one of the seven diseases targeted by USAID's NTD Program.
Source: Andrea Peterson

Why Focus on NTDs?

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) represent a group of diverse diseases that cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide but have until recently received limited attention from the affluent regions of the world. More than 1 billion people – one-sixth of the world’s population – suffer from one or more NTDs. These diseases affect the world’s most vulnerable populations, almost exclusively poor and powerless people living in rural areas and urban slums of low-income countries. Their impact on individuals and communities is devastating. Many of them cause severe disfigurement and disabilities, including blindness.

NTDs coexist with poverty because they thrive where access to clean water and sanitation is limited, and people live without protection from disease vectors. The NTDs also are recognized as a contributor to poverty since they can impair intellectual development in children, reduce school enrollment and hinder economic productivity by limiting the ability of infected individuals to work.

Fortunately, seven of the most prevalent NTDs can be targeted using a similar public health strategy developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) known as preventive chemotherapy. This strategy involves large-scale distribution of high quality, safety-tested NTD medicines. The delivery platform for these medicines is known as mass drug administration (MDA). Due to the strong safety profile of these medicines, WHO endorses their delivery by trained, non medical personnel, such as community volunteers and teachers. Most of the drugs needed are donated by pharmaceutical companies.

USAID Support for NTDs

USAID is a global leader in large-scale implementation of integrated treatment programs for NTDs, focusing on the scale-up of mass drug administration to target the control and/or elimination of lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and intestinal worms. The program currently supports 25 countries and regional programs in Africa and the Americas to reach treatment targets and to monitor and evaluate the programs to document achievement of control and elimination goals.

Over the past 7 years, the U.S. Government has leveraged $6.7 billion in donated medicines, resulting in the delivery of more than 1 billion treatments to approximately 467.9 million people through our integrated programs.

USAID's NTD goals contribute to:

  • Elimination of onchocerciasis in the Americas by 2016.
  • Elimination of lymphatic filariasis globally by 2020.
  • Elimination of blinding trachoma globally by 2020.

Key Partnerships

The success of the USAID NTD Program depends on key partnerships that include pharmaceutical companies and their donation programs, host-country governments, bilateral donors, NGOs, advocacy groups, philanthropic organizations, and implementing partners.

The vast reach of USAID’s NTD Program and the NTD treatments delivered are possible due to remarkable commitments from the pharmaceutical sector, especially GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co, Inc., Pfizer, Inc. and Merck Serono. Collectively, these companies have donated a record $6.7 billion worth of NTD drugs to countries receiving support from USAID since 2006.

Leverage of Drug Donations

$$6.7 billion in drugs have been donated to countries supported by USAID. Chart showing leverage of drug donations. X axis is year, Y access is value of drugs donated to USAID-Support Countries and USAID NTD Funding in US$ in Millions.

FY 2007
$404, $15

FY 2008
$507, $15

FY 2009
$577, $25

FY 2010
$686, $65

FY 2011
$949, $77

FY 2012
$1080, $89

FY 2013
$2,499, 85

USAID also works closely with WHO and the pharmaceutical donation programs to ensure alignment of resources for drug supply and implementation funding and to forecast country specific needs.

Partnerships also come into play when successfully implementing a national NTD program. Every community needing treatment must be mobilized, tens of thousands of community drug distributors must be trained, millions of doses of NTD medicines must be moved from the port to the field, and millions of people must be reached with these medicines, often within a short 2- or 3-week period. The leadership for this work lies with ministries of health and education, and a range of individuals working within countries at the national, regional, district and community levels.

USAID and DFID are bilateral partners dedicated to ensuring that our NTD investments are well-coordinated and effective. This successful partnership has allowed for expansion into a combined total of 49 countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Nigeria.