WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

New Special Envoys announced for NTD treatment programs

The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases announced its newest NTD Special Envoys on May 7 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

President of Guatemala Alvaro Arzu Irigoyen, President of Chile Ricardo Lagos Escobar and former Director of the Pan American Health Organization Dr. Mirta Roses Periago are the Global Network's newest NTD Special Envoys. Leaders in these countries will be supported in the development and implementation of national NTD treatment plans. Key G8/G20 countries are providing technical supports and have increased investments in the region.

"I am honored to be a part of the Global Network's special envoy team and the global effort to improve the lives of billions of people currently living in poverty," Arzu said.

NTDs can cause blindness, massive swelling of limbs and appendages, malnutrition, anemia and complications during pregnancy. In the LAC region alone some 100 million people are infected with one or more NTD, many of whom are impoverished and live in rural areas.

"NTD treatment programs help increase school attendance, improve maternal and infant health and support economic development," Lagos said. "Eliminating or controlling NTDs will accelerate existing efforts to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Latin America and the Caribbean."

NTD control programs are among the most cost-effective programs. Treatment costs 50 cents per person per year and is administered in pill form. The LAC has made significant progress towards NTD and with this new initiative will continue to do so.

"The LAC region is poised to become a leader in the global movement to control and eliminate NTDs," Dr. Roses said. "We have already seen unprecedented collaboration across governments, the private sector and civil society groups through the London Declaration and the 2009 PAHO resolution. In my new role as NTD Special Envoy, I will ensure these efforts are carried forward until we meet our elimination goals."