Kigali Summit Calls for Renewed Investment to End Neglected Tropical Diseases 
A man with symptoms of trypanosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease, is examined by Dr Victor Kande in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Kigali Summit has called for the renewal of commitments in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) through the adoption of the Kigali Declaration on NTDs. 

Sponsored by the government of Rwanda, the Kigali Declaration on NTD is the successor to the ground-breaking London Declaration of 2012, which was a pledge made by governments, donors, pharma, research institutions, NGOs, and other stakeholders to collaborate in their efforts to stop NTDs. 

The new Kigali Declaration aims to mobilize political will and secure commitments to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal target on NTDs and to deliver the targets set out in the World Health Organization’s Tropical Disease Roadmap (2021 – 2030).

The summit, hosted on Thursday by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and co-convened by The RBM Partnership to End Malaria and Uniting to Combat NTDs, builds on progress made in the last two decades, and even more so since the London Declaration, to galvanize action to end malaria and NTDs. 

The summit is also a critical moment to highlight how investments in fighting both malaria and NTDs have a much broader impact, and increased investments will strengthen health systems and protect against future pandemics. 

In conjunction with the summit, Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has endorsed the new declaration and has announced a $250 m five-year commitment in the fight against NTDs.

“Today, by endorsing the Kigali Declaration and pledging to invest USD 250 million, we aim to accelerate  progress toward elimination of these diseases, which continue to cause suffering and stigma  for millions of people around the globe, ” said Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan.  

Ending NTDs is possible 

Ambitious global commitments over the years have shown that ending NTDs is an achievable goal, with 45 countries eliminating at least one NTD, 600 million people no longer requiring treatment for NTDs, and cases of diseases that have plagued humanity for centuries, such as sleeping sickness and Guinea worm disease, at an all-time low.

However, 1.7 billion people continue to suffer from NTDs, and 241 million people are impacted by malaria globally. 

Additionally, according to the annual G-FINDER report, funding for NTDs remained relatively stagnant, with only snakebite envenoming seeing increased investment in 2020. 

Novartis’ $250 million commitment will be used to advance research and development of new treatments to combat NTDs and malaria.  It includes $1 million to advance R&D, focusing on novel drug candidates for four diseases: Chagas disease, visceral leishmaniasis, dengue fever, and Cryptosporidium. 

Some $150 million will be invested to advance the clinical development of three drug candidates to combat emerging resistance to artemisinin, a well-established treatment for malaria.  

With both its adoption of the Kigali Declaration and this new investment, Novartis reiterated its commitment to the fight against NTDs and malaria.

“Over the past decade, great progress has been made against NTDs, but there is still a lot more work to be done. Novartis will continue progressing our longstanding commitment to helping realize a world free of NTDs,” said Narasimhan.

Image Credits: DNDi.

Combat the infodemic in health information and support health policy reporting from the global South. Our growing network of journalists in Africa, Asia, Geneva and New York connect the dots between regional realities and the big global debates, with evidence-based, open access news and analysis. To make a personal or organisational contribution click here on PayPal.