Guinea worm disease

Some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are joining forces with health organisations to donate drugs aimed at controlling or eradicating ten neglected tropical diseases by 2020.

Companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and Novartis will collaborate with the World Health Organisation, with additional funding due to be supplied from the US, UAE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Diseases such as Guinea worm disease, leprosy and sleeping sickness will be combated, with drug companies pledging to donate 14 billion doses of medicines by the 2020 deadline.

Lymphatic filariasis, river blindness, schistosomiasis and Chagas disease will also be targeted.

The companies have also pledged in excess of $785m in funding towards research and development of new treatments for neglected tropical diseases, whilst also strengthening drug distribution avenues.

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As part of the collaborative effort, Abbott, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer will work together to develop new drugs to combat worm infections.

Gates Foundation founder Bill Gates said: “Today, we have joined together to increase the impact of our investments and build on the tremendous progress made to date. 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.”

Image: Following previous efforts, Guinea worm disease is now only endemic in South Sudan and could be eradicated completely through additional funding. Photo: Reytan.