A new UK aid programme has been launched to help protect 200 million people worldwide from debilitating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
The flagship programme, called Ascend, was announced by the UK’s international development minister Baroness Sugg at the NTD NGO conference 2019 in Liverpool. It will tackle six of the world’s worst diseases (lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, intestinal worms, visceral leishmaniasis and trachoma) in 25 of the world’s poorest countries. The programme will also help national governments to combat these diseases themselves in future.
Sightsavers is leading the West and Central Africa part of the programme, along with a consortium of partners including Schistosomiasis Control Initiative, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and Mott MacDonald. Between 2019 and 2022, it aims to deliver 440 million treatments in 13 countries, and make major progress towards treating, controlling and eliminating these painful conditions.
Baroness Sugg said: “These debilitating but preventable diseases stop sufferers from working, studying and leading prosperous, healthy lives. This new UK aid support will stop hundreds of millions of people suffering from their terrible effects, and will boost the economies of 25 of the world’s poorest countries.”
Simon Bush, Sightsavers’ director of neglected tropical diseases, said: “More than a billion people are at risk of neglected tropical diseases, a group of conditions that are completely preventable and easy to treat, yet cause agony, disability and often trap people in a cycle of poverty.
“Thanks to this new programme from the UK’s Department for International Development, we will be able to treat, control and even eliminate more of them than ever before, and make a long-lasting impact on global health.”