Thirteen international pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Sanofi, have partnered with healthcare charities and a number of governments to fight neglected tropical diseases.
A target has been put in place by what is being known as the ‘London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases’ that by 2020, ten lesser known tropical diseases will be under control, if not eliminated completely.
In addition to Pfizer and Sanofi, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation (WHO), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the UK, US and UAE governments will also be involved in the cause.
In total $785 million has been allotted to the cause, which will go towards improving research and development efforts aimed at finding drugs and treatments for the illnesses.
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Each organisation will play its own part in the declaration, for example, Sanofi is going to be responsible for donating 120 million pills to treat lymphatic filariasis.
Commenting on the company’s involvement, Christopher Viehbacher, Sanofi’s CEO, said: “I am convinced that through our partnerships and combined efforts, sleeping sickness and lymphatic filariasis will be eliminated and effective control of other neglected tropical diseases will be achieved.”
Meanwhile, GSK has pledged to contribute two billion doses of albendazole, a guinea worm treatment.
GSK’s CEO, Andrew Witty, said: “We have both the means and the energy to strike a decisive blow against disease in the world's poorest countries.”
Discussing the effort during its launch earlier this month, Bill Gates said: “Today, we have joined together to increase the impact of our investments and build on the tremendous progress made to date.
“This innovative approach must serve as a model for solving other global development challenges and will help millions of people build self-sufficiency and overcome the need for aid.”
Dr. Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director-general added: “The efforts of WHO, researchers, partners, and the contributions of industry have changed the face of NTDs.
“These ancient diseases are now being brought to their knees with stunning speed. With the boost to this momentum being made today, I am confident almost all of these diseases can be eliminated or controlled by the end of this decade.”
The tropical diseases that will be thrown into the limelight thanks to the cause are: blinding trachoma, chagas disease, guinea worm disease, leprosy, lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, schistosomiasis, sleeping sickness, soil-transmitted helminthes and visceral leishmaniasis.
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