The Sabin Vaccine Institute on Tuesday launched a fund-raising social media campaign to drum up grass roots support to battle seven major “neglected tropical diseases” by 2020.

The campaign, called END7, has a Facebook hub developed by agency Wundeman UK. There, the Institute hopes to reach out to millions of connected social media users to collect donations. Another objective of END7 is to encourage major political and philanthropic leaders to increase funding to fight the diseases. The hub will contain videos, photographs and success stories, the Institute said.

The Washington D.C.-based institute says the END7 campaign is run by the organization’s initiative, called the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

"Unlike many global health campaigns, END7 has an end in sight," said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director of the Global Network in a statement.

 "With enough support and donations we believe we can end the plight of people suffering from these diseases by the end of this decade,” Mistry added.

The group says the UK and U.S. governments, as well as major pharmaceutical companies, have “made significant contributions.” The group said END7 also works with the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Neglected” Diseases in Focus

Globally, NTDs infect about one in six people including 500 million children, and treatment for these diseases are available and the “most cost-effective health programs available” the organization said in a released statement.

The campaign focuses on the seven most common NTDs that contribute to 90 percent of the disease burden such as elephantiasis, river blindness, snail fever, trachoma, hookworm, whipworm and roundworm.

These diseases cause blindness, swelling in appendages and limbs, severe malnutrition and anemia, and traps people in a cycle of poverty and disease, the group said, adding that treating these NTDs will lift millions out of poverty and guarantees that children stay in school, strengthens worker productivity, and improves maternal and child health.

The organization said that the campaign is meant to raise public awareness and funds required to cover the costs of distributing medicine and establishing treatment programs in impoverished communities. 

The health organization approximated that it takes 50 cents to treat and protect a person annually against all seven diseases, and urged support and donations from both public and private sectors.

The organization aims to engage with the individuals through campaign videos, photographs, success stories and other content through its Facebook and Twitter page. 

"Unlike many global health campaigns, END7 has an end in sight," said Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director of the Global Network in a statement.

 "With enough support and donations we believe we can end the plight of people suffering from these diseases by the end of this decade,” Mistry added.

The campaign site is available at: http://www.facebook.com/EndSeven