Donors Give Millions to Fight Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa and Other Poor Countries

First Posted: Apr 02, 2014 12:35 PM EDT

One in six people throughout the world are threatened by ten parasitic and bacterial infections that are relatively neglected in the medical world. Now, donors such as Bill Gates and the World Bank are investing $240 million to help fight these diseases in low-income countries.

The World Health Organization works closely with international agencies, non-governmental development organizations, as well as the public and private sectors to promote general well-being throughout the world. Previous large-scale drug donations have contributed to great progress worldwide, said Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization.

Two years ago, 13 drug manufacturers vowed to donate medicines to combat rabies, blinding trachoma, endemic treponematoses (yaws), leprosy, chagas disease, Human African trypanosomiasis, visceral leishmaniasis, dracunculiasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, and schistosomiasis. The money that is being donated is aligned with the drug manufacturers vow in order to maximize to efforts against these diseases. You can read more about WHO's plan to overcome tropical diseases here.

Of the $240 million in donations, $50 million is from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, $50 million is from the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, and $120 million is from the World Bank Group, among others. The drug donors include Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Bayer, Eisai, Gilead, Pfizer, and others as well.

$120 million of the donated dollars is going to be used to combat soil-transmitted helminthes. This group of intestinal worms includes the roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm, which are all among the most common infections for children living in poverty worldwide.

The donors made the announcement today in Paris during a new funding meeting. The first meeting of global partners regarding tropical diseases convened in 2007, which allowed the WHO to establish goals and strategies to work with others in order to provide innovative and cost-effective efforts.

You can read more about the combat to fight tropical diseases in this Reuters article as well as WHO chart.

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