Controlling and Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases Among the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations

Supporting sustainable public health interventions and strengthening health systems

Client
U.S. Agency for International Development
Partner(s)
The Carter Center, Fred Hollows Foundation, IMA World Health, Light for the World, Results for Development, Save the Children, Sightsavers, and WI-HER
Project(s)
Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect more than 1 billion people worldwide, striking at the heart of poor and marginalized communities. The effects can be devastating—causing disability, childhood malnutrition, blindness, and reduced productivity.

Fortunately, five of the most prevalent NTDs—lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, and soil-transmitted helminth infections—can be targeted through the administration of safe, single-dose medicines to entire populations. Treatment of at-risk populations for multiple years can lead to control or elimination of these diseases in communities and can relieve individuals from daily suffering.

Over more than a decade, remarkable progress has been made against these diseases, thanks to a coordinated global effort led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and ministries of health, with unprecedented support from pharmaceutical companies and bilateral donors such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

USAID’s Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East program (2018-2023), led by RTI, builds on these successes, supporting national governments to reach their control and elimination goals through proven, cost-effective public health interventions. The Act to End NTDs | East program provides critical support to countries in their journey to self-reliance, helping them to create sustainable NTD programming within robust and resilient health systems. 

The program currently supports efforts in Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Laos, Mozambique, Nepal, Nigeria, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam.

Eliminating Diseases in Hard-to-Reach and Vulnerable Communities

Act to End NTDs | East partners with governments to eliminate lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, and onchocerciasis as public health threats. More than a decade of NTD progress has shown that elimination of these diseases is possible.

As more countries make their final push to eliminate NTDs, our efforts target the hardest-to-reach and most vulnerable communities, populations often missed with health services. Act to End NTDs | East supports countries in reaching their populations with treatment, conducting surveys to assess impact, and helping countries complete the World Health Organization’s certification process, which confirms the successful elimination of these diseases.

Strengthening Health Systems’ Ability to Sustain the Fight Against NTDs  

Through Act to End NTDs | East, we are working with governments and partners to promote and build capacity for sustainable NTD programming, with a focus on national planning and financing processes. To do so, the program provides technical support ranging from policy planning and governance, domestic resource mobilization, and cross-sectoral coordination. We aim to support select countries to develop mainstreaming plans, engaging and leveraging other sectors, while drawing on lessons from NTD and HSS financing to maximize program impact.

Act | East also works with ministries of health and education to identify distribution platforms with a view to coordinating deworming and school health programs. In this way, national deworming activities become a long-term part of a robust health system. 

Influencing Global Health Policy, Research, and Practice

The global reach of Act to End NTDs | East allows us a breadth of experience and learning that are essential to inform and influence global NTD policy and practice.  Our Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning, and Adapting (MERLA) approach enables continuous learning, adapting, and evidence-based decision-making by integrating monitoring and evaluation, data, and operational research findings to generate comprehensive learning. Together with national governments, we work to elevate lessons learned to global forums to influence policy and research agendas, which are essential to advancing sustainable global NTD progress.