WHO Neglected Tropical Diseases Advisory Committee meeting
MSF intervention – Julien Potet, Access Campaign
Dear NTD experts,
MSF is pleased that the scientific technical advisory group of the WHO NTD department is considering adopting additional neglected tropical diseases. The current list of 17 diseases needs updating. A few diseases in this list have garnered a lot of support in the recent past from both public institutions and private pharmaceutical companies, which is a great achievement of the global NTD community. However it may be time for some of these diseases to transition out from the status of neglected tropical disease and include them in other existing WHO programmes.
Likewise, some of the most neglected diseases found in tropical settings are still excluded from the list of 17 NTDs, and there is a need to set objective criteria to evaluate whether they should be included in the WHO list. MSF believes that it is essential to take into consideration the true level of neglect for each disease. The severity of the disease, the burden at local and regional levels, and the investments made to prevent and treat the disease are important elements to take into account.
Until recently, priority was given by the WHO-NTD department to diseases for which a drug donation exists. As a consequence, tropical diseases for which there is no drug donation were even further neglected. This approach is counter-intuitive and entraps some conditions in a vicious circle of neglect. We think that the NTDs which should be further prioritised are precisely those for which drug access is currently limited. That is why we are pleased that the cooperation between the WHO-NTD department and the WHO-Prequalification department will be reinforced to support access to non-donated NTD medicines.