Belgium and Gates Foundation gather forces to wipe out sleeping sickness.

From the 19th  to the 22nd of April this year, the NTD summit was organized in Geneva, Switzerland. The goals of the summit were to celebrate the community's achievements over the past 5 years and to plan for the future as the aim is to control, eliminate and eradicate 10 neglected tropical diseases. The summit included technical discussions between different partners to define a clear path towards the 2020 goals and beyond.

At the summit, the Belgian federal minister for development co-operation Alexander De Croo shared the stage with Bill Gates and other CEO's. The minister announced that Belgium will invest a total of 25.3 million euros to wipe out sleeping sickness. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will double that amount. "It must give a final push to eradicate the disease," said De Croo. The efforts will be managed by the Institute for Tropical Medicine (ITG) in Antwerp (Belgium) and will focus on the Democratic Republic of Congo, since more than 85 percent of the cases are reported in Congo. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 20,000 people worldwide are infected with sleeping sickness, which is transmitted by the tsetse fly. Over 50 million people are at risk of getting the disease. The fact that science has progressed in the fight against the disease in recent years has shown a sharp fall in the number of cases. By 2015, there were less than 3,000, or a 89 percent decline since 2000. It is the hope of De Croo and Gates that this new effort, led by the ITG, will deal a fatal blow to this devastating illness.

Picture of the large panel of stakeholders at the 2017 NTD summit in Geneva. Bill Gates sits on the far right. Federal minister of development co-operation Alexander De Croo is the 6th person from the right.



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