The first comprehensive study on the global burden of disease and risk factors was commissioned by the World Bank in 1992. A follow-up study was performed in 2005, and another iteration was commissioned by the World Health Organization in 2010, due for publication in 2011. The author suggests that the global burden of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) has been seriously underestimated. The way forward is the integration of control efforts, with programmes coming together to deliver a package of drugs against NTDs. Barriers to continent-wide coverage of drugs against NTDs are political will (missing in those countries with poor governance), funding (approximately half of the $1.5-2 billion is needed) and human resources. However, if the donors who give so much to malaria, tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus would share just 10% of the amount allocated to the big three, the most common NTDs could become diseases of the past. This could well happen within 7 years, and the targets of GET2020 (Global Elimination of Trachoma by 2020) to eliminate trachoma and GAELF (the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis) to eliminate lymphatic filariasis by 2020 are achievable.
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