One in seven of the world’s population suffer from neglected tropical diseases. That’s more than the population of Europe. And yet, through large-scale drug programmes in some of the poorest regions on the planet, nearly one billion people are now safer from these diseases than they were half a decade ago.
This film celebrates the 5th anniversary of a groundbreaking international coalition: Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases. Its aim is hugely ambitious yet highly focused: to control, eradicate or eliminate ten debilitating and potentially fatal tropical diseases by 2020. Here, we document some of the incredible progress so far.
The six-minute introductory film was shown to over 800 senior government officials and world health delegates at the World Health Organisation in Geneva in April 2017. Post event a revised version was created for distribution on social media. In total, we delivered 15 films to help share the positive impacts of this life-changing programme to a wider audience.
In the developing world, the impact of Hansen’s disease (also known as leprosy) is still being felt. For many with this debilitating condition, the social stigma (sometimes self-imposed) can lead to social exclusion and even estrangement from family.
In Ghana, Kofi Nyarko is a man on a mission. As someone who has had Hansen’s disease himself, he now dedicates his life to reuniting other sufferers with their families – some of whom haven’t seen their family in decades. In this moving film, Kofi shares his message of hope. Today, Hansen’s disease can easily be treated with a simple drug. But the social stigma is more difficult to overcome. We travel with him on two momentous days, as James and Ekua are reunited with their families after more than 30 years apart.
This film was commissioned by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation) to give a human face to Hansen’s disease.
Sightsavers had originally wanted to invite three community medicine distributors form around Africa to speak at the launch of the Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases Declaration, at the Natural History Museum in London. With the WHO and Gates Foundation amongst the delegates they wanted to communicate the success stories on the ground. However getting visas in such a short space of time ruled this out.
Wrangling with customs officers, visas and hugely long car journeys we filmed over 10 days in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, where we travelled to the remotest regions to hear these people’s stories.
Hosted by Sightsavers and attended by over 200 people from across the pharma, donor and NGO sectors incl. the Gates Foundation and World Health Organisation, the film was used to launch a discussion on the importance of attaining the WHO 2020 goals for neglected tropical diseases.
One billion tablets per year can do a lot of good in the right hands.
Because in global health, the challenge is not simply identifying drugs that work. It is about producing them in sufficient quantities and making them accessible to the people who need them most.
This film documents how GSK pulled out all the stops to ramp up its production capability of Albendazole, a drug that helps to combat the spread of debilitating conditions such as Lymphatic Filariasis (LF), which affects 120 million people worldwide. Now producing and donating one-billion Albendazole tablets per year, GSK’s efforts are part of a record-breaking charitable programme delivered by Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases.