Turn your idea into a life-changing project to help beat neglected tropical diseases

30 Apr 2020

A new learning and innovation fund will accelerate the control and elimination efforts of five debilitating diseases.

UK aid’s Ascend West and Central Africa programme is excited to announce the launch of a new fund focusing on five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) - lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma.

The programme works across 13 countries in West and Central Africa to protect millions of people from these painful and poverty-trapping diseases.

The Ascend Learning and Innovation Fund provides up to £500,000 in grant funding to support a range of NTD-focused projects across these countries, some of the poorest in the world.

Impact of COVID-19

It is impossible to say what the medium and long-term impact will be on national NTD programmes and the communities. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) have asked for NTD community-based surveys, active case-finding activities, and mass treatments campaigns to be postponed. This is not about cancelling NTD programmes but delaying activities. The Ascend Learning and Innovation fund are committed to remaining flexible to the rapidly changing circumstances whilst continuing to deliver certain aspects of national NTD programmes in the most effective and safest way possible.

In response to the evolving environment, we are now proactively seeking proposals which can re-purpose NTD platforms to support the COVID-19 response, where appropriate, as well as proposals which will support the recovery of NTD programmes once WHO has advised it is safe to resume elimination activities.

If you have an exciting idea, Ascend want to hear it and help make it a reality. They are seeking project proposals that address one of the five following challenge statements:

  • Challenge 1: COVID-19 response – How can NTD programming provide entry points for COVID-19 response and readiness?
  • Challenge 2: Collaboration and multisectoral action – How can NTD interventions leverage synergies arising from collaborations across diseases, sectors and borders?
  • Challenge 3: Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – How can we enhance access to, and quality of, NTD treatment and prevention services in the context of UHC?
  • Challenge 4: Health systems strengthening – How can we ensure long-term, in-country sustainability for NTD programmes?
  • Challenge 5: Data systems – How can we increase the quality and availability of NTD data at all levels to better inform NTD programming?

If you want to address something outside of these challenges that is relevant to the control and elimination of neglected tropical diseases, please send an email to fundteam [at] ascendwest-innovationfund [dot] org to discuss further.

How to apply
The fund consists of 5 application windows. Applications for Cycle 1 open on 28th April 2020 and will close 29th May 2020. Cycles 1-4 will be open to all applicants; Cycle 5 will be restricted to existing projects or partners. All project activities and reports will have to be completed and submitted by 31st March 2022 at the latest.

For more information on the application process, fund guidelines and challenge statements please visit: https://ascendwest-innovationfund.org or email the team on fundteam [at] ascendwest-innovationfund [dot] org