On April 16, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, or DFID, announced a $12.5-million grant to The Task Force’s Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center to expand operational research studies focused on controlling and eliminating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in countries where these diseases are endemic.
The new funding will support the collaborative activities of the Coalition for Operational Research on Neglected Tropical Diseases (COR-NTD), for which the NTD Support Center serves as secretariat. This coalition involves more than 100 research organizations, program implementers, and funders around the world, that are working to overcome barriers to NTD control and elimination.
“This extraordinary commitment from the UK government comes as a result of the impressive legacy established by the Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center and our NTD programs,” said Dave Ross, ScD, Task Force president and chief executive officer. “The innovations that will result from this new partnership will bring us closer to a world free of NTDs.”
The new DFID funding will support an expansion of the number of COR-NTD’s operational research projects. The current portfolio consists of 126 projects in 54 countries and is funded by major grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Agency for International Development. These projects have tested new diagnostics, survey methodologies, and other innovations to aid in the fight against lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, trachoma, and other NTDs.
“These diseases belong to the last century. They cause unimaginable suffering and pain to some of the world’s poorest people, forcing them into a deeper cycle of poverty with no way out. Yet they are treatable,” said Priti Patel, International Development Secretary for the United Kingdom.
The research supported by the DFID grant will address issues faced by NTD elimination programs, including equitable access to treatments for people burdened by these diseases. That knowledge will help countries conclude programs more quickly and ensure that these diseases are no longer public health threats. The Sustainable Development Goals call for an end to NTDs by 2030.