More Collaborative, Flexible Approach Needed To Combat NTDs

“To tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), we need a far more collaborative and flexible approach,” Mark Booth, acting deputy director of Durham University’s Wolfson Research Institute and head of the N8 Parasitology Group, writes in this New Statesman opinion piece. Booth references the publication of new malaria mortality estimates in the Lancet and the signing of the so-called “London Declaration on NTDs” by a consortium of public and private partners last week and writes, “Malaria is not classified as an NTD because relatively large amounts of attention and funding have been pitted against the parasite. But if we now have to rethink malaria control strategies, then how confident can we be about controlling or eradicating any of the 17 NTDs identified by the World Health Organization?”

Booth examines the five key strategies against NTDs as recommended by the WHO and writes, “[A]lthough we know many things about parasites and their response to drugs there are many other things we don’t know about, and can only find out about through rigorous scientific research.” He concludes, “To really make a sustainable difference that can address uncertainties proactively, we need to have a flexible partner structure that recognizes the value of expertise in key areas, irrespective of sector” — a “multi-disciplinary, multi-agency, multi-country approach that tackles the social component of bilharzia with equal passion as the molecular biology of rabies” (2/3).