RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — RTI International, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development, will continue its effort to reduce neglected tropical diseases in developing nations through a new five-year cooperate agreement.
The new project extends and builds on the previous USAID-funded program that began in 2006, which has thus far delivered more than 447 million treatments to more than 82 million at-risk people.
"We are pleased to continue our partnership with USAID on this vitally important global health program," said Barbara Kennedy, vice president of RTI's Global Health Group. "This program provides evidence of the value of delivering integrated global health interventions that increase efficiency and effectiveness and deliver measurable results."
At least 1 billion people — one-sixth of the world's population — suffer from one or more neglected tropical diseases.
These preventable diseases cause blindness, worm infestation, severe enlargements of limbs such as legs and feet, and impair childhood growth. The diseases are still prevalent and common in much of the developing world, and together they cause severe disability in the world's poorest countries, resulting in billions of dollars of lost productivity.
The 2006 project was one of the first global efforts to integrate existing disease-specific treatment programs for the control and elimination of seven neglected tropical diseases that can be targeted with preventive chemotherapy, including lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), onchocerciasis (river blindness), schistosomiasis (snail fever), three soil-transmitted helminths (hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm), and trachoma.
The project demonstrated that disease-specific programs can be integrated to achieve programmatic and cost efficiencies and that such programs can be successfully scaled up to achieve national-scale coverage of all at-risk individuals, an approach that is leading to the successful control and elimination of the targeted diseases.
Building on that success, during the next five years RTI will partner with CBM, Helen Keller International, IMA World Health, Sightsavers International, The Carter Center, Tulane University, and World Vision to expand the neglected tropical disease control program in ten countries and further the development of evidence-based policies and standards globally.
The countries include Cameroon, Haiti, Mali, Nepal, Tanzania, Uganda, Indonesia, Guinea, Mozambique and Senegal.
Through a collaborative effort, RTI and its partners are working with the ministries of health and other local organizations to develop treatment programs that best meet the needs of each country.
The distributed medicines are donated by pharmaceutical companies. More than $2.8 billion of medicines have been donated over the past five years through pharmaceutical donation programs of GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., Inc., and Pfizer.