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Crown Agents to lead expert consortium to accelerate global fight against neglected tropical diseases /

We are delighted to announce that the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has selected Crown Agents to lead an innovative consortium of experts including Abt Associates, Oriole Global Health and the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) that will work to eliminate and control five neglected tropical diseases in 12 countries across Africa and South Asia.

The Accelerating Sustainable Control and Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases programme (ASCEND Lot 1) aims to stamp out, prevent and control transmission of trachoma, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filiariasis, visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and schistosomiasis in Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Building on existing efforts to tackle and contain NTDs, ASCEND marks the beginning of an innovative approach that places emphasis on long term sustainability. Strengthening national health systems, encouraging joined up working and knowledge exchange between actors in different countries across all components of the programme will be key.

Worldwide more than 1.6 billion people including 850 million children continue to be at risk of contracting NTDs, many of whom live in rural and urban areas that are difficult to access. Outlining the current challenges the ASCEND programme has been designed to tackle, Principal Programme Manager Shodigul Alimshoeva explains:

“The people most likely to be affected by NTDs are often the poorest who come from the most rural and marginalised communities. They lack access to basic health care services, sanitation, clean water and education about simple preventative measures they can take. Although these diseases are preventable and can be treated, the lack of attention they receive means needless suffering continues.”

ASCEND marks a departure from current ‘single lens’ approaches to tackling NTDs via numerous ‘vertical’ or single-disease projects which have been the norm in recent years. Crown Agents’ consortium provides an integrated and holistic approach aimed at generating a long-term solution and is comprised of a team of experts that combines world class academic understanding with real world programme management, governance, change management and stakeholder engagement expertise.

With its emphasis on sustainability, ASCEND’s long-term objective is to equip governments with the necessary tools and capabilities that will stay with them beyond the life of the programme. Shodigul says:

“ASCEND places emphasis on strengthening regional and national health systems based on WHO building blocks. Our goal is to enable the governments of these countries to deliver successful national NTD programmes themselves, and in areas where they don’t have the knowledge or capacity we will support by providing technical assistance, which we will help to embed within the organisation.”

Find out more about the ASCEND programme by reading  DFID’s press release.

For further information about the ASCEND (Lot 1) contact: shodigul.alimshoeva@crownagents.co.uk