April 30, 2019

Photo Credit: RTI International

Photo Credit: RTI International

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with 13 ministries of health is launching a new program to control and eliminate five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) —trachoma, lymphatic filariasis (LF), onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis— in Southeast Asia, East Africa and elsewhere. The new five-year, USAID-funded Act to End NTDs | East program is successor to USAID’s ENVISION project, both cooperative agreements led by RTI International. The launch of the new program and the ENVISION celebration is taking place April 29-30 in Kampala, Uganda.

Building on Past Progress

In 2012, the ENVISION project began supporting national health ministries and other government entities. Over the years it expanded to support Bangladesh, Benin, Cambodia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Laos, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam. With support from ENVISION, Cambodia eliminated trachoma and lymphatic filariasis as public health problems and Laos and Nepal eliminated trachoma.

USAID joined the Government of Uganda’s ongoing efforts to fight NTDs in 2007. Beginning in 2012, ENVISION supported the Ministry of Health to map the burden of NTDs; implement an integrated NTD database for improved data management and use; train hundreds of thousands of health workers, teachers, and community drug distributors; and treat millions of Ugandans across 80 districts. Because of this tremendous partnership, more than 12 million Ugandans are no longer at risk for LF; nearly 10 million are no longer at risk for trachoma; and 2.8 million no longer have to worry about river blindness.

“Uganda has made impressive strides to control and eliminate these otherwise devastating diseases. Because of the government’s commitment, and partnership with USAID, a large number of communities across the country no longer require treatment for three of the five most common neglected tropical diseases. That’s measurable progress that matters,” said Deputy Chief of U.S. Uganda Mission Colette Marcellin.

Looking Forward

USAID’s newly launched Act to End NTDs | East program assists disease-endemic countries to plan, implement and finance solutions to fight NTDs using proven, cost-effective public health interventions. The Program will support activities in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Laos, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda and Vietnam.

“The Act to End NTDs program is the next generation of programming that’s really going to advance our efforts to control and eliminate these diseases. While our partner countries can be proud of considerable progress to date, we don’t want to lose momentum. We have big goals that we want to achieve together. Reaching those goals will not be possible without the leadership of our partner country governments to fully commit in the fight against NTDs,” shared USAID Public Health Advisor Rob Henry.

USAID’s Act to End NTDs | West program, encompasses additional countries in West Africa and is led by a separate consortium of partners.