Professor Stephen Hawking leads global celebrations to mark one billion treatments for neglected tropical diseases

12 December 2017

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The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust has joined Professor Stephen Hawking, Sightsavers and a global community of organisations to celebrate the delivery of one billion treatments for neglected tropical diseases.

These painful and debilitating infections affect about one in five people across the globe. One of these diseases is trachoma – the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness, which the Trust has been tackling since 2012.

Today, at an event at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge, acclaimed physicist Professor Stephen Hawking praised the achievement, saying: “My father’s work into neglected tropical diseases many years ago highlighted that this is an important area where we must be placing focus.

“Today we are here to celebrate delivering one billion treatments for neglected tropical diseases – a monumental milestone few health programmes have achieved, both in terms of scale and level of success.

“Collaboration between partners across the world over the last five years has accelerated us closer to the elimination of neglected tropical diseases than ever before, making it clear that this is one of the most successful health initiatives of recent times.”

The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust’s Trachoma Initiative seeks to eliminate blinding trachoma in 12 Commonwealth countries by the end of 2019. As well as providing treatment, surgery and programmes to change hygiene behaviour,  The Trachoma Initiative also trains surgeons and health workers to help strengthen local healthcare systems and leave a lasting legacy.

Professor Hawking said: “The fact that these diseases are entirely preventable and treatable means that, in this day and age, with the advances in health and science we know only too well, we should really be in a position to be saying goodbye to these horrible diseases of poverty once and for all.”

“We are now on the brink of elimination and I must commend the collaborations that have been formed across the world between governments, NGOs, communities and international organisations that have brought us to where we are today.

“This is truly an illustration of what can be achieved when we work together to change lives for the better.”