World NTD Day 2021

Distribution of Mectizan® (for preventing river blindness) in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai, DR Congo.
© CBM/Bugbee

World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day is celebrated every year on 30 January. On this Day, we celebrate hard-earned progress and take action to #EndtheNeglect and #BeatNTDs.

Affecting more than a billion people worldwide, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are diseases of neglected people, usually those living in poverty, without the knowledge or means to protect themselves from the parasites or infections that cause them.

Diverse in nature, several NTDs often affect the same communities. Together, they are responsible for about 500,000 deaths per year but due to their nature they also cause chronic pain, disfigurement and disability, impairing childhood growth and mental development and hindering economic growth – trapping people and families in a cycle of poverty.

CBM's work with NTDs

CBM has been successfully involved in the prevention of blindness from onchocerciasis for more than 30 years, and in the case of trachoma for almost 50 years. We work with government partners supporting front-line health workers to deliver treatments in highly challenging conditions. In 2019, with support from our partners and donors, CBM helped to treat over 37 million people in 9 countries against:

  • Trachoma
  • Onchocerciasis (River Blindness)
  • Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis)
  • Schistosomiasis (Bilharzia)
  • Soil Transmitted Helminths (Intestinal Worms)

While the size of the challenge is daunting, the good news is that progress is being made – since 2012, 33 countries have eliminated at least one of the 20 NTDs which means that millions are no longer at risk of infection. In 2020, Myanmar was the latest country to declare the elimination of trachoma, acknowledging CBM’s support in this milestone achievement.

Know more about our work

Read our 2020 annual NTD Report that outlines significant progress made towards the goal of eliminating these avoidable diseases.

Read this interview where CBM’s Senior Advisor for NTDs, Martin Kollmann talks about the WHO's new Roadmap on NTDs 2030 and the changes it entails. 

‘The Last Mile: Essential to Win the Fight but Hardest to Cover’

Dr. Babar Qureshi, CBM Director of Inclusive Eye Health

© CBM

In this interview, Dr. Babar Qureshi (Director of Inclusive Eye Health and NTDs at CBM) explains why NTDs are often neglected and what can be done to change this. He also talks about how COVID-19 has affected our work, and gives some inspiring examples of successful programmes at CBM. 

The way ahead

World NTD Day 2021 comes during the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, an event that has greatly impacted health programmes globally, affecting health workers and necessitating the redeployment of resources to life saving treatment.

After careful assessment of the safety of our programmes, CBM has recently restarted its support to the mass drug distribution programmes that are part of the elimination strategy and that help to protect hundreds of millions of people from the disabling NTDs.

Quote by Nick Burn, Head of NTD Programmes at CBM

This photo shows a group of people looking at the camera and smiling.

Nick Burn (extreme left) at a training of ophthalmologists in DR Congo.

© CBM

''World NTD Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements that the global community has made in the last year, but also to remind ourselves of what remains to be done to eliminate these diseases and ensure that they no longer remain a cause of poverty, ill-health and disability for millions throughout the world.''