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Bill Gates fights tropical diseases

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At least 13 pharmaceutical firms, the United States, Britain and United Arab Emirates governments, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank and other global organisations have announced a new, co-ordinated push to accelerate the elimination of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the end of the decade.

Partners have also pledged to bring a unique focus to defeating these diseases and to work together to improve the lives of the 1, 4 billion people worldwide affected by NTDs, most of whom are among the worlds poorest.

The programme will come in handy for Zimbabwe as it aims at boosting the health sector in the country.

Unlike previous, siloed, disease-by-disease approaches, this new co-ordinated effort will help fill critical gaps and simultaneously address issues such as drug supply and delivery, research and development and infrastructure.

Speaking on behalf of the CEOs of the 13 pharmaceutical companies involved, Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, said: “Many companies and organisations have worked for decades to fight these horrific diseases. But no one company or organization can do it alone. Today, we pledge to work hand-in-hand to revolutionize the way we fight these diseases now and in the future.”

The group also endorsed the London Declaration on Neglected Tropical Diseases in which they pledged new levels of collaborative effort and tracking of progress.

Today, we have joined together to increase the impact of our investments and build on the tremendous progress made to date, said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

This innovative approach must serve as a model for solving other global development challenges and will help millions of people build self-sufficiency and overcome the need for aid.

The 10 diseases identified include lymphatic filariasis, blinding trachoma, sleeping sickness and leprosy, and control of soil-transmitted helminthes, schistosomiasis, river blindness, Chagas disease and visceral leishmaniasis.

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