GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) released a press statement this week announcing that it has joined other global pharmaceutical companies and leading organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in an effort to support developing countries to defeat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Neglected tropical diseases affect more than one billion people in developing countries, causing illness, disability and death, and increasing the burden on over-stretched health systems.
This united group will support the goals given this week by the WHO to control or eliminate ten of the 17 diseases designated as neglected tropical diseases by the end of the 2020. This includes eliminating five diseases: lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), guinea worm, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, and controlling a further five: soil transmitted helminthes (intestinal worms), schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas and visceral leishmaniasis by 2020.
The CEO of GSK, Sir Andrew Witty said: “I am delighted to announce that GSK is part of this united effort to free future generations from the burden of neglected tropical diseases. We fully support the WHO’s bold vision and we are committed to playing our part in helping to achieve universal coverage of intervention programmes for diseases that can be controlled or eliminated by existing treatments, and to spur R&D into new treatments for diseases where none currently exist. Through this new partnership, we have both the means and the energy to strike a decisive blow against disease in the world’s poorest countries.”