Gates opined that this program represented “global health at its best,” and it’s hard to disagree with him – it’s easily one of the most extensive medical initiatives in human history.
It’s worth emphasizing that this isn’t just a charitable initiative. The progress report indicates that 1.8 billion treatments have been donated by the group’s industry partners – a new record – and that the most impoverished and poorly of those living in 150 different countries have received them.
This enormous collaborative endeavor between very different members of society has ultimately resulted in the 1 billion figure headlining the report. That’s roughly 14 percent of the global population – a truly staggering figure by any measure.
As with any project like this, unexpected hurdles mean that the 2020 target won’t be met, but they won’t be far off. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the WHO, acknowledged this at the summit, saying that “the story of neglected tropical diseases is one of great progress and remaining challenges.”
This is echoed by Katey Owen, the Director of the NTD initiative at the BMGF.
“There is more work to be done,” she stresses. “We need increased support from a diverse network of donor and affected country governments, private philanthropy and other stakeholders to help us continue driving progress.”
In any case, as this work continues to accelerate – and all indications are that it will – it won’t be long before those key NTDs are consigned to history.