WHO’s Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ESPEN)


The Expanded Special Project for Elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases strives to eliminate the five most prevalent neglected tropical diseases in Africa, by providing preventive treatment against e.g. river blindness for free to 600 million people. This continental initiative is carried out by a public-private partnership including pharmaceutical companies. The Swiss contribution makes it possible to accelerate the elimination of the diseases by expanding to more countries and people.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Global
Health
Infectious desease
Primary health care
Health systems strengthening
01.08.2019 - 31.07.2024
CHF 7'495'500
Background

This project addresses Sustainable Development Goals 3 of ending the endemics of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) by 2030. NTDs, such as river blindness and elephantiasis, are a diverse group of communicable diseases with devastating consequences for health and economic development in affected regions. One out of six people worldwide are affected. Despite mostly preventable with low-cost treatments, Neglected Tropical Diseases continue to kill an estimated 170,000 people per year and are a leading cause of blindness and other disabilities. Africa bears about half of the global burden of these diseases which contribute to the vicious cycle of poverty and ill-health.

Most NTDs can be prevented, treated and eliminated at around euro 0.50 per treatment per year. Although these low-cost high quality medicines are available, they do not always reach the patients. There is a critical need for strengthening of the supply chain to ensure medicines are utilized and tracked appropriately since countries have limited human resources and capacity to implement.

ESPEN aims at eliminating the five most prevalent NTDs through mass administration of preventive treatments in schools and communities donated by pharmaceutical companies. This means the entire eligible populations in the infected communities are covered through large-scale interventions. The Swiss contribution enables ESPEN to further fill a roughly-estimated treatment gap of 181 Million people not yet receiving treatment and to strengthen health systems in such way that countries can react to resurgence of a disease once it will be eliminated.

Objectives Accelerate the reduction of the burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases by 2025 for a healthier and more prosperous Africa.
Target groups The main beneficiaries of this investment will be populations affected by NTDs in the Member States of the Africa region (44 countries) and selected Eastern Mediterranean countries (Djibouti, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen).
Medium-term outcomes
  • Outcome 1: Scale up treatments to reach 50 million additional people per year
    (towards 100% geographical coverage)
  • Outcome 2: Scale down, i.e. stop treatments once elimination target has been achieved
  • Outcome 3: Strengthen access and quality of information to enable evidence-based action
  • Outcome 4: Improve the efficient and effective use of donated medicines
Results

Expected results:  

  • Outcome 1:
    • Output 1: Country plans are completed and reviewed. ESPEN will support countries to update their 5-year master plans and annual work plans
    • Output 2: Annual work plans are implemented
    • Output 3: Country progress is reviewed
  • Outcome 3:
    • Output 1: Enhanced data management via ESPEN portal
    • Output 2: Networks among donors and key partners are strengthened
  • Outcome 4:
    • Output 1: Strengthened Supply Chain Management to optimize utilization and reduce waste.
    • Output 2: Strengthening Joint Application Packages (progress measurement)


Results from previous phases:  

In 2017, ESPEN operationally and financially supported 14 countries, launched a data sharing platform, and convened key trainings and coordination meetings to build capacity and enable information sharing. In 2018, ESPEN supported 21 countries to scale treatments to target more than 70 million people.

Additionally, ESPEN’s work on supply change management resulted in the recovery of over 285 mio donated tablets which were lost or unaccounted during the distribution.


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • World Health Organization


Coordination with other projects and actors Swiss Alliance for Neglected Tropical Diseases
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   7'495'500 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   0 Budget inclusive project partner CHF   49'809'337 Total project since first phase Budget inclusive project partner CHF  7'495'500
Project phases Phase 1 01.08.2019 - 31.07.2024   (Current phase)