The role of non-governmental organisations in NTD programmes

Published on November 28, 2019   29 min

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My name is Simon Bush. I'm director of Neglected Tropical Diseases at Sightsavers. I'll be talking to you on "The Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in NTD Programmes".
The summary of my talk today is; a look at the evolution of NGDO interests in neglected tropical diseases, the role of NGDOs in NTD programmes, two challenges that NGDOs have in NTD programmes, working in conflict areas and cross-border issues, and then finally, a case study of the NTD- NGDO network, and I'll bring together a few conclusions at the end of the talk.
These diseases have not suddenly emerged, they've been the subject of various studies since the earliest days of tropical medicine. For instance, Sir Patrick Manson first discovered in 1877 that insects were capable of transmitting infective agents. But the term neglected diseases really emerged in the 1980s when Ken Warren, from the Rockefeller Health Department, introduced the term 'great neglected diseases'. There was a bit of a silence, and then in 2005, the term 'neglected tropical diseases' was taken on board at an advocacy meeting around funding with the WHO.
So as I have just indicated, it's not a new area of work for NGDOs. For example, a large amount of research on onchocerciasis was undertaken in the 1950s in East and West Africa, vector control work in Uganda for river blindness in the 1950s and '60s, and the River Blindness Foundation formed in 1990. In fact, an NGDO was first associated with calling onchocerciasis by it's common name 'river blindness' in the 1950s by Lady Jean Wilson who was touring Ghana at the time. That term 'neglected tropical diseases' was coined by professors Fenwick, Molyneux, and Hotez in 2005, and it really brought together a concerted global effort around those diseases. Addressing NTDs under a single brand has added to the interest in NTDs, which has subsequently added funding and implementation support. But the work around each of the individual diseases is not new. I'm going to trace some of the earlier work back to 1989 when the donation program of Mectizan donated by Merck and Co. for the control and in time elimination of onchocerciasis started. At that time, I think there was a match in development studies that became interested in community involvement in programmes. The donation of the drug was probably one of the most important term stages in the control and elimination of onchocerciasis, but it also raised a challenge. The challenge was how to get that donation to the communities that were suffering from the disease, and that's where that early work around a community involvement in NTDs started, right as I've spoken at length about Mectizan and the impact it has had. But perhaps one of the most important quotes is that Mectizan may have changed the face of tropical medicine more than any other drug this century.

The role of non-governmental organisations in NTD programmes

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