India Should Not Lose Sight of Programs to Combat Diseases of Poverty

_MG_0672_CopyAn editorial, “To our health,” in The Indian Express, published on March 31, 2016, highlighted an initiative to update India’s public health framework in a time-bound process. The updates, which may be finalized in three months, will bring a new focus to preventing non-communicable diseases and operationalizing plans that have been in development. Programs focused on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including lymphatic filariasis and visceral leishmaniasis, are specifically mentioned as opportunities to meet targets set in global frameworks. While this initiative is a positive step, the editors note there are risks to the plan.

As new scourges replace the epidemic killers of old, public health in India has suffered for want of a regime for early detection. However, the government must be aware that a refocus on new disorders draws attention away from programmes against older threats to the poor — filariasis was supposed to be history in 2015, but is still out there.

The Indian Express is one of India’s most widely circulated daily newspapers.

END7 Funds NTD Projects Around the World

This spring, we awarded nearly $400,000 in new grants for neglected tropical disease (NTD) control and elimination activities in 2016.

This funding is made possible by generous donations to END7, an international advocacy campaign that seeks to raise the awareness and funding necessary to control and eliminate the seven most common NTDs. The campaign is managed by the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases and 100% of donations to the END7 campaign go straight to NTD programs. Donations to Sabin Foundation Europe, a partner of the U.S.-based Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Global Network also helped make these grants possible.

The grants will make a significant impact in supporting integrated NTD programs in six countries. All projects are coordinated with Ministries of Health and/or the World Health Organization in each country. Many of the projects include mass drug administration (MDA) for the most common NTDs and training of health care workers. These projects are expected to benefit nearly six million individuals at risk from NTDs and train tens of thousands of health workers and volunteers to lead the NTD control and elimination effort into the future.

Awarded to existing efforts that faced a funding gap, these projects will have a lasting impact on improving and expanding existing programs to reach ambitious NTD control and elimination goals in Africa, Asia and Latin America – the regions with the largest NTD burden:

Nigeria
$50,000 to support integrated MDA for seven NTDs, administered by Sightsavers with the support of the Federal and Kebbi State Ministries of Health. Nearly 5.9 million people will receive donated medicine in Kebbi state, in northwest Nigeria, where all seven NTDs are widespread. Sightsavers will continue their successful MDA in the region and expand to new areas.

Somalia
$66,200 to support the first integrated MDA in five regions of southwestern Somalia by the new NTD Program of the Ministry of Health and Human Services. The MDA will target schistosomiasis (snail fever), ascariasis (roundworm), hookworm and trichuriasis (whipworm) among school-age children and adults in areas of high prevalence. The NTD Programme was established in 2015; success this year will help scale up the delivery of donated medicine to the rest of the country.

Cote d’Ivoire
$28,789 to support water, sanitation and hygiene education to prevent NTDs in Cote d’Ivoire, administered by Helen Keller International. More than 7,000 health workers, school teachers and community health volunteers will be trained to reach more than 2.5 million people.

Guyana
$111,146 to support MDA to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in the most populous region of the country, administered by the Pan American Health Organization and the Ministry of Public Health. Guyana is on track to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis) by 2020. These funds were raised for END7 by the Sabin City Group in London.

India
$60,546 to assist a local NGO, Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), to expand their successful efforts to treat and prevent lymphatic filariasis to West Bengal. This grant will enable CASA to train community members to manage the swelling and disability that often results from later stages of lymphatic filariasis. Each infected patient will receive a hygiene kit with soap, a towel and antifungal ointment and be shown how to care for themselves to reduce swelling. CASA will also promote the government’s annual MDA targeting 500,000 people for lymphatic filariasis treatment in West Bengal.

Myanmar
$75,645 to assist the Department of Public Health to determine where MDA for lymphatic filariasis has succeeded and can be concluded. Nine districts with a population of nearly 7 million have already conducted more than five rounds of MDA for lymphatic filariasis. Officials will determine whether transmission has been interrupted.

The Global Network team reviewed 37 proposals from a range of partners tackling NTDs around the world and selected projects with the potential to have the most lasting impact, leverage further investment and bolster country-led efforts to eliminate NTDs.

To date the Global Network has awarded more than US$1 million in grants to 19 partners. From individual donors contributing $5 a month to student groups raising $10,000 over the course of a school year, the END7 campaign has mobilized a diverse and growing community of supporters from countries around the world dedicated to supporting the fight against NTDs. Together, these contributions are moving the NTD elimination effort forward by helping communities set up treatment programs they can run themselves. END7 supporters fill funding gaps in successful NTD treatment programs, highlighting the tremendous impact of this inexpensive treatment and the power of partnership in the fight against NTDs.

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NTD Awareness Week 2016: A Global Celebration of Progress in the Fight Against NTDs

END7 student supporters have had a busy spring! Between creative fundraising events, high-impact advocacy activities (including meetings with 39 members of Congress on the second annual END7 Student Advocacy Day!), and the launch of chapters at universities from Scotland to Ghana, our student community has been making a difference in communities around the world. Students kicked off this busy semester with the celebration of the first-ever global NTD Awareness Week from January 24-30 – ending on the fourth anniversary of the signing of the London Declaration on NTDs.

NTD Awareness Week 2016 banner 600p

Here are some highlights from the week from participating universities around the world:

Duke University (Durham, North Carolina, USA)

Duke University END7 Student Advisory Board representative John Lu is currently teaching a for-credit elective course on NTDs, and celebrated NTD Awareness Week on campus by inviting Justin Lana, a PhD candidate at Duke, to give a guest presentation on guinea worm to the class. Justin spent two years living in a tent in South Sudan working with the Carter Center on their Guinea worm eradication effort. He shared stories of his work while living there, and demonstrated to the class how exactly he, and those he supervised, went about from community to community to ensure that guinea worm transmission was interrupted. He even brought in a few of the actual water filters that were distributed to community members to stop transmission, and passed around a guinea worm in formaldehyde that he had smuggled into the U.S. The sample is one of just 300 remaining samples of guinea worm, which is nearing eradication (with just 22 human cases left in the world).

Georgetown University (Washington, D.C., USA)

Throughout NTD Awareness Week, Georgetown students actively promoted a petition to urge President Obama to increase funding for the USAID NTD Program in the last budget request of his presidency. END7 at Georgetown members helped deliver petition signatures across town to the White House at the end of Awareness Week!

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Glasgow University (Glasgow, Scotland)

To celebrate NTD Awareness Week, the newly-established GUEND7 Society organized a pub quiz trivia event that raised £177.05 ($250) for END7! 30 attendees had a great time answering trivia questions about NTDs and other topics. The winning team was awarded a prize of tea cakes and biscuits donated by a local merchant.

Glasgow University pub quiz winning prize

Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts, USA)

END7 at Northeastern celebrated NTD Awareness Week with a Dancing with the Stars fundraising event, bringing campus celebrities together with members of the Northeastern University Ballroom Dance Team to put on fun performances – and even offer a Bachata dance lesson to attendees!

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This creative event raised hundreds of dollars for NTD treatment – and was a whole lot of fun!

Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Awka, Nigeria)

Nnamdi Azikiwe University END7 Students Awareness Forum - NAUTH

Students at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, organized a training session for medical students to learn more about NTDs. The president of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Medical Student Association (NAUMSA), John Chukwu, recorded this video explaining NTDs and the END7 campaign and rallying students to get involved in the NTD effort.

Watch the video
Nnamdi Asikiwe University video still

Rice University (Houston, Texas, USA)

END7 at Rice launched NTD Awareness Week with a Super Smash Bros video game tournament that brought students from across campus together to raise money to “smash NTDs” while competing to win their favorite game.

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After a busy week of advocacy and education activities on campus, they collaborated with the Rice Pre-Medical Society to make NTDs the topic of their Third Annual Medical Speakers Conference on January 30. Dr. Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute (home of END7), delivered the keynote address, “NTDs: The Global Diseases of War and Poverty” – and took a minute to pose with members of the END7 at Rice executive board at the event.

Rice University global health conference Dr. Hotez 600p

Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, Canada)

Members of the just-launched SMU Voice for NTDs student society celebrated NTD Awareness Week with a fun Tropical Night fundraiser to spread the word about their new club and raise money for NTD treatment. The event featured a limbo competition, tropical photo booth, costume contest, and tropical refreshments – a perfect escape from the Halifax winter weather!

SMU Tropical Night 1

Talk about putting the fun in fundraising!

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University of Sierra Leone (Freetown, Sierra Leone)

The leaders of END7 at the University of Sierra Leone College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) organized several exciting events during NTD Awareness Week, beginning with a capacity building training for students to learn about the NTDs prevalent in Sierra Leone. The training was co-facilitated by Hellen Keller International, an NGO addressing NTDs in the country. END7 at USL president Ishmael Tamba Jalloh gave a presentation about END7 and NTD Awareness Week at the event.

USL training

Ishmael then appeared on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Cooperation national television program, PODIUM, to raise awareness about NTDs and END7, and was interviewed on two radio stations to promote NTD Awareness Week. Listen to his interview on the “Good Morning Show” here.

USL Ishmael radio interview

In addition to educating students and citizens about NTDs, END7 at USL members got involved directly in the NTD control and elimination effort by visiting schools in a low-income area of Freetown to educate primary school students about the importance of washing their hands and participating in mass drug administration (MDA) campaigns to stay safe from NTDs.

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They also brought a water purification device to the school they visited to drive home their message!

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END7 at USL members celebrate a successful NTD Awareness Week by holding up 7 fingers for END7!

USL members

University of Texas at Austin (Austin, Texas, USA)

END7 at UT kicked off NTD Awareness Week by setting up a Bagels and Brochures table in a busy area of campus, handing out information about NTDs and pastries donated by a local Panera restaurant.

END7 at UT bagels and brochures 600p

Club members also wrote dozens of letters to President Obama urging him to increase funding for the USAID NTD Program in the last budget request of his presidency – mailing them to D.C. just in time for our petition delivery at the White House!

Obama letters 600p

We are so proud of END7 student supporters around the world who came together to raise awareness and funds to fight NTDs during the first-ever global NTD Awareness Week. The diversity of our student supporters and the events they organized is a testament to the global nature of the NTD control and elimination effort – and the power of partnership in fighting NTDs. Here’s to making NTD Awareness Week bigger and better in 2017!