Page through the Guinness Book of World Records and you’ll learn that a lot can happen in 24 hours.
On February 14, 2004, Dan Meyer of Davis, California, set the record for the longest paperclip chain by an individual in 24 hours. Length: 5,340 feet. Total number of paper clips: 54,030.
On June 4, 2011, Nabi Salehi, a barber in London, set the record for giving the most consecutive haircuts in 24 hours. Total haircuts: 526.
And on January 30, 2017, another achievement—one that will improve millions of lives—was added to the Guinness World Record list. A group fighting neglected tropical diseases—including Guinea worm, river blindness, and elephantiasis—set the record for most drugs donated in a 24-hour period. Total number of drugs: 207,169,292!
This week in Geneva, I was excited to participate in the ceremony to celebrate the group that achieved this incredible feat, Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, a coalition of drug companies, governments, health organizations, charities, and other partners who work to reduce the burden of tropical diseases that impact the world’s poorest.
On January 30th, they organized drug manufacturers, warehouse workers, delivery drivers, government officials, and health workers to deliver this historic number of donated drugs on four continents for distribution to people living in the remotest parts of the world.
What’s truly amazing is that the 207 million drugs donated on January 30th represent just a small amount of this group’s generosity. Since 2012, when United to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases signed a declaration to control or eliminate 10 of the worst neglected diseases, they have donated 7 billion treatments. I’m grateful to the pharmaceutical companies that have been making these donations year after year: Bayer, Eisai, Gilead, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, MSD, Merck KGaA, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi.
Thanks to the efforts of these drug companies and their partners millions of people are receiving the medicines they need to cure and protect them from these diseases. These diseases are in retreat and the world is moving closer to the day when they will be eliminated altogether.
Of course, all world records get challenged. And I for one will be thrilled for the day when this record for drug donations gets broken. So will the millions of families around the world who need them.