It is estimated that over one billion people from the world’s most disadvantaged and poorest communities suffer from at least one neglected tropical disease (NTD), which can significantly impact upon their physical and emotional wellbeing.
Close to 60% of the world’s children are expected to reside in the tropics by 2050. Whilst progress to address these diseases is being made only 0.6% of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for Health is allocated to NTDs.
Health challenges such as the Ebola outbreak, together with the wider impact of conflict, environmental degradation, climate change and the frequency of natural disasters put the progress made against NTDs under significant threat. Yet NTDs are markers, agents and drivers of poverty. Controlling and eliminating NTDs can make a proportionately greater contribution than any other investment – more health for less money.
LSTM has over 115 years' experience being at the forefront of providing policy makers with the scientific evidence and programmatic success to articulate relevant science to inform policies and guidelines. Within that process important questions are being asked concerning approaches to the control and elimination of NTDs.
While scaling up access to preventive chemotherapy for NTDs is a priority, achieving effective treatment coverage alone is not enough to achieve the current 2020 NTD targets as laid down in the London Declaration in 2012 and further emphasised in Paris in 2014.
LSTM is working to identify and overcome critical bottlenecks through its research and implementation activities whilst evaluating alternative strategies to overcome the existing barriers to control and elimination. In addition, the WHO recommends complementary strategies to accelerate transmission interruption, including vector control, the provision of sanitation and hygiene, health awareness and capacity building.
In response, LSTM focuses on a multidisciplinary approach to NTDs, building on the particular strengths of its research departments. This draws together a broad range of existing projects but will also encompass a raft of new programmes.
Overseeing and leading on this is LSTM’s Emeritus Professor David Molyneux, who will advocate for a better understanding of what he has termed the ‘chronic pandemic of NTDs and their debilitating impact and for effective sustainable elimination and control programmes’.
NTDs cross sector expertise
Validating and implementing innovative monitoring and evaluation tools to support informed decisions for the control and elimination of NTDs
Diverse activities to strengthen capacity at the level of individuals, institutions and nationally/regionally-laboratory networks and in-country programme related training workshops.
LSTM and collaborators at University of Warwick are central to a new international initiative to coordinate efforts on NTD modelling to inform policy.
Pre-clinical NTD Models for the Evaluation of Next Generation Therapeutics
With a focus on priority helminth NTDs, LSTM has in-house capability to rapidly test novel curative drugs and anti-morbidity therapeutics to facilitate their development into clinical candidates.
Diagnostic Tool Development and Evaluation
With a specific focus on Cutaneous and Visceral Leishmaniasis and Human African Trypanosomiasis LSTM’s Research Centre for Drugs and Diagnostics (RCDD) has a portfolio of activities in NTDs
LSTM’s social scientists examine social, political and economic factors affecting NTD MDA programmes to produce a more holistic approach to NTD control and prevention to meet the elimination targets of the global NTD community.