DFID ministerial visit to LSTM on occasion of ASCEND Programme launch

News article 17 Sep 2019
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Baroness Sugg, interviewed by media on the ASCEND programme launch

LSTM played host to a ministerial visit from the Department for International Development (DFID). The visit followed the launch of the ‘Accelerating the Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases’ (ASCEND) Programme, in which LSTM is a partner, at the Neglected Tropical Disease NGO Network Conference in Liverpool.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Baroness Sugg, visited LSTM following the announcement of the £220 million commitment from UK Aid, to talk to those involved in the programme and to be briefed on the wider research LSTM is doing in the field of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

Baroness Sugg met, amongst others, with the Director of LSTM’s Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (CNTD), Professor Mark Taylor. He said: “This funding, which will fund the prevention and treatment of five debilitating NTDs, will prove critical as we move from the suppression of these diseases to their elimination in different settings. Working across 25 different countries, DFID’s support will allow us to make unprecedented progress in bringing relief to endemic communities and breaking the cycle of poverty and poor health.”

The programme aims to tackle five of the world’s worst NTDs: lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis); onchocerciasis; schistosomiasis; visceral leishmaniasis and trachoma. These diseases affect over a billion people worldwide, stopping adults from working and children from going to school, and are estimated to cost developing economies billions of pounds every year in lost productivity.

This new programme will deliver 600 million treatments to prevent NTDs and aims to eliminate visceral leishmaniasis from Asia by 2022, as well as helping national governments to tackle these diseases themselves in the future.

During the launch Baroness Sugg said: “These debilitating – but preventable – diseases stop sufferers from working, studying and leading prosperous, healthy lives.

This new UK aid support will stop hundreds of millions of people suffering unnecessarily from treatable conditions. It shows how the UK is helping to lead the way in tackling deadly global diseases more generally, including polio and malaria.”

The ASCEND West Programme covers 13 countries out of the 25 countries of the wider ASCEND programme and will be implemented by LSTM, Sightsavers, Mott MacDonald and The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative.

During her visit Baroness Sugg met with CNTD’s Chief Operating Officer Sian Freer, Senior Technical Adviser Dr Louise Kelly-Hope as well as the Director of the COUNTDOWN consortium, Dr Rachel Thompson. Brief presentations were also given by LSTM’s Centre for Snakebite Research & Interventions (CSRI) and LSTM’s Vector Biology Department.