Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are closely related to poverty and affect over a billion people in developing countries. The unmet treatment needs cause high mortality and disability thereby imposing a huge burden with severe social and economic consequences. Although coordinated by the World Health Organization, various philanthropic organizations, national governments and the pharmaceutical industry have been making efforts in improving the situation, the control of NTDs is still inadequate and extremely difficult today. The lack of safe, effective and affordable medicines is a key contributing factor. This paper reviews the recent advances and some of the challenges that we are facing in the fight against NTDs.
In recent years, a number of innovations have demonstrated propensity to promote drug discovery and development for NTDs. Implementation of multilateral collaborations leads to continued efforts and plays a crucial role in drug discovery. Proactive approaches and advanced technologies are urgently needed in drug innovation for NTDs. However, the control and elimination of NTDs remain a formidable task as it requires persistent international cooperation to make sustainable progresses for a long period of time. Some currently employed strategies were proposed and verified to be successful, which involve both mechanisms of ‘Push’ which aims at cutting the cost of research and development for industry and ‘Pull’ which aims at increasing market attractiveness. Coupled to this effort should be the exercise of shared responsibility globally to reduce risks, overcome obstacles and maximize benefits. Since NTDs are closely associated with poverty, it is absolutely essential that the stakeholders take concerted and long-term measures to meet multifaceted challenges by alleviating extreme poverty, strengthening social intervention, adapting climate changes, providing effective monitoring and ensuring timely delivery.
The ongoing endeavor at the global scale will ultimately benefit the patients, the countries they are living and, hopefully, the manufacturers who provide new preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic products.
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