U.K. House of Lords debates NTD response plan

Vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Malaria and Neglected Tropic Diseases Baroness Helene Valerie Hayman chaired a debate of the United Kingdom House of Lords that addressed health initiatives regarding neglected tropical diseases.

The debate looked at the progress made towards countering NTDs since the 2012 London Declaration established a plan for what is needed to successfully overcome the diseases. Countering NTDs has recently increased in priority in the U.K. after the United Nations discovered a correlation between NTD prevalence and the rate of poverty.

"Scaling up integrated NTD control and elimination strategies is considered one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce global poverty," Lord Baron David Alton of Liverpool said.

The Lords discussed a number of important topics, including how to incorporate NTDs in the post-2015 development goals, how to maintain sustainable change through multilateral partnerships, gaining donations from pharmaceutical companies, the development of cost-effective drug administration programs and closing the NTD funding gap.

"The London declaration of 2012, whose second anniversary we mark with this debate, was hugely important, because it brought together funders, both national and philanthropic, pharmaceutical companies that donate the drugs necessary for mass drug administration programs and endemic countries themselves in an effort to co-ordinate the fight against these diseases," Hayman said. "Together with the ongoing support of the World Health Organization, which has championed this work in recent years, we have seen a significant shift in the global prioritization of neglected tropical diseases. Their inclusion in the healthy lives goal of the high-level panel on the post-2015 development agenda, published in May last year, was, I believe, a crucial step forward."

NTDs are one of many challenges facing poverty-stricken areas; others include limited access to clean water and sanitation. Lord Baron of Mapesbury Lawrence Collins said these issues will be addressed as part of the WHO 2020 and post-2015 development goals.