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Letter to the editor

We are Duke’s GlobeMed chapter, and we are writing as an organization that is concerned about the global impact of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). GlobeMed is getting involved this year with the END7 Campus Leaders Council, an international advocacy campaign working to raise the awareness and funding necessary to control and eliminate the seven most common NTDs by 2020.

NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that keep kids out of school and prevent parents from working, trapping families in poverty. Without treatment, they can lead to lifelong disabilities and suffering. The seven most common NTDs infect over one billion people globally, but it costs just 50 cents to treat and protect one person from any of the seven NTDs for a whole year. In fact, NTD treatment is one of the most cost-effective health programs available today.

The United States is the largest funder of NTD treatment programs in the world, supporting mass drug administration programs in 25 countries through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s NTD Program. Since 2006, modest funding for this program has delivered more than one billion NTD treatments to 687 million people. Every $1 of taxpayer funding invested in delivery leverages $26 worth of drugs donated by pharmaceutical companies—a best buy in global health. Thanks to the USAID NTD Program, 127 million people in 18 countries are no longer at risk of lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis) and 54 million people in 15 countries are free of the risk of blinding trachoma.

With fellow Duke University students and the entire END7 student community, GlobeMed urges Representative Larry D. Hall and Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr to support $125 million in funding for the USAID NTD Program in the FY17 budget. With this vital funding—representing just 0.003 percent of the entire federal budget—GlobeMed believes the global effort to end the suffering caused by NTDs will be successful.

Sincerely,

GlobeMed Executive Board

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