Switzerland lives up to its responsibility

Switzerland lives up to its responsibility

10 Swiss NGOs, educational and research institutes and pharmaceutical companies are uniting in the fight against neglected tropical diseases. On April 20, the ‘Swiss Alliance against Neglected Tropical Diseases’ was founded in Geneva.

With the motto of ‘Leaving no one behind’, the United Nations promotes its sustainable development goals. Yet these can only be achieved if the billion people worldwide that suffer from neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) do indeed receive the support that they need and do not get left behind. This is the opinion of René Stäheli, managing director of the development organization FAIRMED and co-founder of the ‘Swiss Alliance against Neglected Tropical Diseases’, which was officially inaugurated in Geneva on 20 April 2017.

With this alliance, the 12 development organizations, research and educational institutes and companies have formed an alliance in the fight against neglected tropical diseases, explains Stäheli. “One in seven people globally suffer from one or more neglected tropical disease or their consequences. This burden falls particularly on the world’s poorest, most vulnerable and remote-living people. Together, we want to make these people more visible and send a powerful signal to forge ahead in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.”

Committed to leave no one behind

Millions of people are disabled, stigmatized, excluded from school or work, and deprived of the most productive years of their lives as a result of neglected tropical diseases. NTDs are responsible for more than 170,000 deaths each year. “Our vision is a world where nobody has to suffer from a neglected tropical disease,” explains Peter Steinmann, Public Health Specialist with the Swiss TPH and member of the founding committee.

To achieve this goal, access to existing and new medicines must be ensured for those affected. Programs aimed at controlling neglected tropical diseases have advanced in recent years, the availability of data has improved and it is possible to better coordinate the various tools. “What is now needed to take the decisive step forward is to increase global awareness, develop new and user-friendly drugs, diagnostic tests and interventions, and bridge the huge investment gap. With our activities, we want to send out a strong signal of solidarity with those affected by neglected tropical diseases, and continue our decades-old endeavor to actively contribute towards the achievement of these goals. Together we stand for the Swiss commitment to leave no one behind.”