1.7 billion people worldwide are affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). That’s 1 out of every 5 people on the planet.
We’re talking about diseases like rabies, leprosy, scabies and dengue. Diseases that not only take away people’s lives and health, but also their chances to stay in school, earn a living or even be accepted by their family or community. Diseases that often affect our most vulnerable, people living in poor and remote areas, where neglect quickly leads to suffering.
But there is hope.
Many neglected tropical diseases can be prevented – and as we know, rabies can be eliminated.
This January 30th is World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day, a day marking the anniversary of the landmark 2012 London Declaration on NTDs. Since then, 33 countries have eliminated at least one NTD, and over 400 million no longer require treatment.
We joined the fight against NTDs in 2013 in India – the world’s hotspot for rabies, where a third of all human cases occur. In just 25 days we vaccinated 50,000 dogs against rabies. So, we set ourselves a bigger challenge: make the state of Goa rabies-free!
Then we turned our sights on the rabies hotspots across the world.
Since 2013, we have vaccinated over 1.4 million dogs as well as empowered more than 3.8 million children, 94,000 teachers, and 840,000 community members to protect themselves against rabies. As a result, we've celebrated zero human rabies deaths in Goa, India for the last three years, and significant declines in cases across the communities in which we work.
This year, the World Health Organization has outlined the way forward towards a healthier future without NTDs. What’s more, they’ve pledged to end human rabies deaths by 2030. It's an ambitious but achievable goal, if we work together.
It's the only way to ensure children like Tupochele, a 3-year-old Malawian girl, don’t fall victim to this deadly but entirely preventable disease. Read her story.