The burden of NTDs across the globe is extensive. They cause widespread mortality and inflict suffering by causing life-long disabilities, disfigurement, reduced economic productivity, social stigma and the resulting social exclusion.
In 2012, the WHO published the “Roadmap for Implementation” outlining targets for control, elimination and eradication of the 18 NTDs by 2020. Inspired by this initiative, several coalitions of diverse partners have been formed to combine their knowledge and expertise. Uniting to Combat NTDs is one of them, pledging their commitment in a document called the “London Declaration on NTDs” to provide support towards attaining the WHO Roadmap targets for 10 of the 18 NTDs.
Effective control and prevention of disabilities associated with the NTDs can be achieved when several public health approaches are combined. Improved access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is an example of a key intervention within the global NTD roadmap. It is critical in the prevention and the provision of care for the majority of the NTDs, especially for trachoma, STHs, schistosomiasis and dracunculiasis. Furthermore, the recent increases in medicine donations by the pharmaceutical industry have allowed a scale-up of interventions, increasing access to high-quality medicines free of charge for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. For example, ENVISION has received nearly 6 billion dollar worth of drugs donated by pharmaceutical companies in 2015 and therefore, could support Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programs that target multiple NTDs at once, including lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and trachoma.
That is why InfoNTD focuses on integral approaches of 16 NTDs and related public health problems. The focus is not on medical symptoms, but rather aspects common to all or many NTDs, like treatment aspects, assessment, and social, economic and human rights issues. The cross-cutting aspects include subjects like disability, community-based and other forms of rehabilitation, advocacy and empowerment, as well as ways of prevention like WASH-related interventions.