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January 30 is the fourth annual World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day and is an opportunity to increase awareness of these illnesses. The date marks the anniversary of the landmark 2012 London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases, or NTDs, which united the NTD community in advocating for greater investment and action toward NTD elimination.

NTDs are a group of parasitic, bacterial, and viral diseases. Some of the most common include lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis; trachoma; onchocerciasis, or river blindness; schistosomiasis, or snail fever; and intestinal worms including whip worm, round worm and hook worm.

NTDs, which affect over one billion people globally, thrive in areas with limited health resources.

Neglected Tropical Diseases have blinded, disabled, and, in some cases, killed for centuries. Generation after generation, their impact on individuals and communities has been devastating. They impair intellectual development in children and reduce school enrollment. They limit the ability of infected individuals to work and thrive and, because many of those affected by NTDs have limited access to medical care, they may become trapped in a cycle of poverty and disease.

As part of its fight to improve lives, since 2006, the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, has worked with global, regional, and in-country partners to improve health and eliminate NTDs. The Agency has invested over a billion dollars into this effort. Every dollar invested by the U.S. Government leverages 26 dollars in donated medicines, making for some 28.6 billion dollars in donated medication to date. In practical terms, this means that, for example, more than 500 million people no longer need treatment for three of the most burdensome NTDs—onchocerciasis, trachoma and lymphatic filariasis. Incredibly, more than 40 countries have eliminated at least one NTD as a public health threat.

Today we mark the fourth Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, shining a bright light on the incredible success countries are making all over the world to control and eliminate NTDs. It is a day to showcase the enormous value of investing in the global fight against disease.