In 2006, NTD control was seen as a monumental task, with more than 1.4 billion people suffering from one or more NTDs around the world. While several organizations had made significant progress on individual diseases over the previous decade, we recognized that reaching more people in a cost-effective way required a truly integrated and coordinated approach. As such, the founding collaborators of the Global Network came together and formally launched the initiative at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in 2006.
In the Global Network’s short history, we have focused on resource mobilization and advocacy efforts based in Washington, DC—with impressive results.
Growing Global Leadership
World leaders are beginning to take action. In 2008, then-President Bush called on the US to invest $350 million over five years to fight NTDs; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlighted NTDs at the UN Elders Meeting; and, for the first time ever, the leaders of the G-8 nations placed NTDs on the global health agenda. In 2009, former President Clinton highlighted the Global Network on stage at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting and President Obama included NTD control and elimination as one of the four key pillars of his new Global Health Initiative.
We have been fortunate to have many other noteworthy figures dedicate their fame and credibility to raise the profile of NTDs. In July 2008, former US Secretary of Health and Human Services and four-term Wisconsin Governor Tommy G. Thompson announced that he would serve as a global ambassador for the Global Network, joining actress and philanthropist Alyssa Milano, our first Global Network ambassador. In 2009, the Global Network gained the support of the Brazilian National Soccer Team and Miss Universe Organization—with more high-profile figures to come.
Collectively, these developments represent a paradigm shift in the way the global community understands NTDs. As we scale up and become even more effective in our advocacy efforts—through expanded partnerships, greater outreach capacity, and heightened public awareness and political momentum—we will come closer to eliminating these diseases and allowing children and families to survive and thrive.