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The process of building the priority of neglected tropical diseases: A global policy analysis
The global burden attributed to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) is 47.9 million Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs). These diseases predominantly affect disadvantaged populations. Priority for NTDs has grown in recent years, which is observed by their inclusion in the sustainable development goals (SDGs). This study analyzed the process that allowed these diseases to be included on the global health policy agenda. This global policy analysis used the Shiffman and Smith framework to understand the determinants of global health political priority for NTDs. The framework comprises four categories: actor power, ideas, political contexts, and issue characteristics. Global documents and World Health Assembly (WHA) resolutions were examined, key-informant interviews were conducted, and academic publications were reviewed to understand the four categories that comprise the framework. A total of 37 global policy documents, 15 WHA resolutions, and 38 academic publications were examined. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals representing different sectors within the NTD community who have been involved in raising the priority of these diseases. This study found that several factors helped better position NTDs in the global health agenda. These include the leadership of actors that mobilized the global health community, the creation of a label combining these diseases as a group to represent a larger disease burden, the presence of mechanisms aligning the NTD community, and the agreement on ways to present the NTD burden and potential solutions. The process of building the priority of NTDs in the global health agenda shows that several determinants led to positive outcomes, but these diseases continue to have low priority at the global level which requires the implementation of actions to increase their global priority. These include sustaining the commitment of current actors and engaging new ones; increasing the attention given to diseases formerly categorized as “tool-deficient”, including zoonotic NTDs; continue leveraging on policy windows and creating favorable policy moments to sustain commitment, as well as setting realistic targets. Findings from this study can help develop strategies to build the momentum and drive actions to implement the goals of the new Roadmap for NTDs in the pathway to universal health coverage (UHC) and sustainable development.
Year of Publication
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Number of Pages