RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Today, RTI International will join the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO) and more than 40 nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, global health and civil society organizations to celebrate the success and underscore the continuing commitment from global partners in achieving control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by 2020.
NTDs affect the world’s poorest and most marginal populations. These diseases can kill and frequently impair, blind or disfigure those they infect. NTDs devastate families and communities by hindering children’s mental and physical development, reducing school performance and attendance, and limiting economic productivity in adults who become blind or too sick to work, thereby keeping families in a continuous cycle of poverty. Due to their primary role as caretakers of children, women are more commonly affected than men, suffering from NTDs like trachoma which causes pain and blindness during the most productive years of life.
Since 2006, RTI has been the lead organization in implementing USAID’s first NTD program targeting lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), onchocerciasis (river blindness), schistosomiasis (snail fever), soil-transmitted helminthes and trachoma. This program has supported countries to deliver more than half a billion NTD treatments in just six years, reaching cumulatively more than 250 million people in 20 countries.
During this event, these successes will be recognized by Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID administrator and Dr. Lorenzo Savioli, director, Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases, WHO. Dr. Caroline Harper, chief executive for Sightsavers International (RTI sub-contractor on the ENVISION project) will serve as moderator. Confirmed members of Congress to make remarks include:
- The Honorable Patrick Leahy, U.S. Senate
- The Honorable Lindsey Graham, U.S. Senate
- The Honorable Chris Coons, U.S. Senate
- The Honorable Johnny Isakson, U.S. Senate* (invited)
- The Honorable Benjamin Cardin, U.S. Senate* (invited)
- The Honorable Jeff Fortenberry, U.S. House of Representatives; co-chair Malaria and NTD Caucus
- The Honorable Gregory Meeks, U.S. House of Representatives; co-chair Malaria and NTD Caucus
NTD Champion awards will be presented by Ariel Pablos-Mendez, assistant administrator for global health at USAID to:
- Dr. Nana Biritwum, National NTD Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Ghana
- Dr. Mwele Malecela, Director General of National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania
- Dr. Uche Amazigo, retired director of the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control
- Dr. Adetokunbo “Ade” Lucas, Founding Director of WHO's Special Program for Research, Training in Tropical Diseases