Archive for October, 2009

Combating intestinal worms in Haiti

October 30th, 2009

foto maria_rebollo

By Maria Rebollo

Maria Rebollo, a Medical Doctor specialized in Public Health and neglected tropical diseases, is a consultant for the Inter-American Development Bank. She is also co-Founder and President of Zerca y Lejos, an international NGO. Since 2001, Zerca y Lejos has been working in Cameroon on  microfinance, integrated health care and public health project management (including HIV, TB, NTD, malaria, health promotion, vaccination projects), infrastructure development, water and sanitation and education projects.

Soil-transmitted Helminths (STHs), commonly known as intestinal worms, are an important cause of malnutrition, anaemia, stunted growth and impaired physical and cognitive development impacting the population of Haiti, specially affecting the most vulnerable groups such as children and women of child bearing age. The absence of good hygiene, clean water and improved sanitation make transmission of intestinal worms very easy.

To combat intestinal worm infections in a sustainable and effective way, we must focus on changing the different factors that contribute to their transmission: water and sanitation improvement, hand washing with soap and clean water, and hygiene education to promote good habits such as wearing shoes, washing hands and food or using latrines.

The children of today cannot wait for all of these improvements to be complete. The children of today have the right to grow up free of worms in order to be able to attend school and develop with all their energy and intellect. For the children of today, deworming will improve their nutritional status, physical fitness, appetite, growth, and intellectual development. For the children of tomorrow, improving water, sanitation and promoting hand washing is needed to interrupt intestinal worm transmission and have a intestinal worm free environment.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is leading this initiative by integrating infrastructure improvements with hygiene education and disease prevention and treatment through deworming. The IDB will ensure that thousands of children and pregnant women in Haiti have access to preventive and curative treatment with deworming tablets, while their communities and schools benefit from improved sanitation, clean water and points of hand washing with soap. Teachers will be trained to educate children on the use of latrines, the importance of hand washing several times a day, and will have access to these tools in school. Read more: Combating intestinal worms in Haiti

Global Child Survival Act Introduced, Includes NTDs

October 29th, 2009

Yesterday afternoon, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) announced his bill, the Global Child Survival Act, along with the support of Senators Corker (R-TN) and Durbin (D-IL).  The bill — designed to provide US Government assistance to improve the health of newborns, children, and mothers in developing countries — included a number of findings and provisions focused on the impact and control of NTDs.  Specifically, the bill provides language that supports “activities to prevent, control, and in some cases eliminate neglected tropical diseases for both children and mothers.”

In a statement about the bill, Senator Dodd commented, “It doesn’t cost a lot to save a life…the United States does a lot to combat child mortality. But we can do more, we have committed to do more, and we must do more.”  Senator Corker added, “We have an opportunity through the Global Child Survival Act to save the lives of more children and improve the health of mothers in developing nations. Maintaining U.S. investment in proven, cost-effective programs to combat poverty and disease overseas helps bring stability to unstable and often dangerous regions of the world, ultimately supporting our security interests both at home and abroad.”

Political will — domestic and global — is critical to sustaining both the momentum and the funding necessary to realize our NTD control and elimination goals.  We praise the leaders in Congress and their staff for the incredible work they have done this week to help secure a place for NTDs as a key part of the global health and development agenda.  If you have a few minutes in your day, please reach out to them and let you know that you appreciate the work they are doing to help end the neglect.

To read more, and to see the full text of the bill, visit our Press Center.

Caucus Expansion Event a Success

October 28th, 2009

This afternoons event to launch the newly-expanded Congressional Malaria and NTDs caucus was a great success.  Representatives from a number of Congressional offices, as well as the NGO and policy communities, attended the briefing and heard from Amb. Mark Green, Kari Stoever, Dr. Christopher King, and Amb. Mark Dybul.  Each of the speakers stressed the importancefor policymakers, for American taxpayers, and for affected communitiesof integrated NTD and malaria efforts, and displayed optimism for the prospects of improved cost-efficiency and measurable results.

Amb. Mark Dybul, Dr. Christopher King, Kari Stoever, and Amb. Mark Green Present at the Congressional Malaria and NTD Caucus Event

Amb. Mark Dybul, Dr. Christopher King, Kari Stoever, and Amb. Mark Green Present at the Congressional Malaria and NTD Caucus Event

As Mark Green noted, Reps. Payne and Boozman certainly arent scoring huge political points at home for doing this [work with the Caucus]so we should support them.  And hes right.  So again, the Global Network would like to extend our deepest thanks to the Caucus Co-Chairs for their leadership on the diseases and for their innovative approach to integrated global health.  Please free to call their offices and share your gratitude as well!

More photos from the event can be found at Malaria Policy Centers Flickr page.  All photos are provided courtesy of Ben Brophy.

Mark Green: We must integrate

October 28th, 2009

mark_green_profileMark Green is the Managing Director of Malaria No More’s Malaria Policy Center in Washington, DC.  He has served as U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania and as a U.S. Congressman.

‘Malaria is deadly and yet we can prevent it with simple and affordable tools if we get them in the hands of the people that need them the most.’ That is a simple statement and it is one that I spend my days presenting. As the Managing Director of the Malaria Policy Center, my mandate is pretty clear, ‘advocate for an end to malaria deaths.’ But in Washington it can be all too easy to focus on a narrow interpretation of that mandate; after all this is a town where people establish careers by defending or championing just one issue. Today in the global health arena we don’t have that option. We must integrate work against a number of diseases to be the most effective and truly change our world.

I have spent a lot of time as a teacher and Ambassador in Africa and one thing I remember is that sick Africans don’t visit different clinics depending on their illness. There are not separate clinics for malaria and river blindness in the most remote of villages. If communities are lucky enough to have even one clinic it must respond to and treat any number of diseases. I think our approach to global health efforts must recognize this and find ways to combine efforts for the greatest impact.

Malaria and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are perfect examples of how we can pair efforts and they have seen success individually, showing us that we can realize improved health systems and an end to deaths from disease.

Read more: Mark Green: We must integrate

Congressional Malaria Caucus Expands to Include NTDs

October 28th, 2009

We are excited to announce that the Congressional Malaria Caucus, co-chaired by Rep. Payne (D-NJ) and Rep. Boozman (R-AR), has formally expanded its mandate to include neglected tropical diseases.  Beginning with a briefing on Capitol Hill today, the newly-named Congressional Malaria and NTDs Caucus will continue to address the scourge of malaria but will also look at ways to promote cost-effective global health investments, particularly through linkages with NTD control.

Check back to End the Neglect later this morning,  when well feature a post from Malaria No More Policy Center Director, Mark Green.  Hell share his thoughts on the Caucus expansion and what it means for global health.  Also be sure to check out the Malaria Policy Centers blog, Malaria Watch, where Global Network Managing Director Kari Stoever will share her feedback today.

NTDs and Living Proof, Part 3: Global Progress

October 26th, 2009

Lymphatic filariasis (LF, or elephantiasis) often strikes children and adults living in impoverished, unsanitary conditions. Transmitted by mosquitoes, LF threatens more than one billion people in over 80 countries, with one third of those infected from India, one third from Africa, and the remainder from South Asia, the Pacific and the Americas. Of the 120 million people already afflicted, more than 40 million are seriously incapacitated and disfigured by the disease.  Fortunately, we have seen major successes in efforts to prevent and treat LF around the world.

The legs of a man infected with lymphatic filariasisIn 1997 the World Health Organization created the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, with a strategy designed to eradicate the disease via mass drug administration—treating large portions of the population in order to break the cycle of transmission. To support these global efforts, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck & Co. pledged long-term drug donations of unprecedented size.

Over the ensuing decade, more than two billion treatments were safely administered, and, in 2007 alone, 546 million people were treated to prevent transmission of LF, making this the single largest public health initiative  employing mass drug administration to prevent an NTD ever.

Since 1997, some 6.6 million children who would have otherwise been infected with elephantiasis have been protected from the disease, with another 9.5 million infected people protected from the disease progressing to more debilitating stages.  These efforts ensure that children and adults who would otherwise be infected and unable to attend school or earn a living can live healthy, productive livescontributing to the well-being of their families and economies.

* * *

We want to thank you for following us throughout the day.  We hope that you feel invigorated by the fact that we CAN achieve real successes in global health with smart, sustainable investments.

Wed love to hear your perspectives on the impact of US investments in global health below in the comments section.  But more importantly, please contact your legislators and thank them for their support, letting them know about the remarkable successes our global health investments have achieved.

NTDs and Living Proof, Part 2: Communities

October 26th, 2009

In 1974, one in ten people in West Africa suffered from river blindness (onchocerciasis), a disease that causes intense skin itching, painful lesions, and blindness.  Over the next three decades a groundbreaking global health partnership emerged to face this threat, the World Health Organization’s Onchocerciasis Control Program (OCP) joined Merck & Co. Inc.’s Mectizan Donation Program, and began providing onchocerciasis treatment free of charge in 1988.

By 2002, OCP and Merck had produced unprecedented results in West Africa – transmission of the infection was halted in 11 countries, 600,000 cases of blindness were prevented, and 22 million West African children were born free from risk of contracting the disease.  These health impacts only begin to hint at the overall difference this program made.  The program has freed 25 million hectares of arable land, enough to feed 17 million people per year.  This increased land area, combined with improved workforce productivity post-treatment, paved the way for an increase of $3.7 billion in agricultural productivity in the region.

River blindness control in West Africa is living proof that public-private partnerships and community directed approaches can free millions from disfiguring and disabling conditions. As we celebrate this progress, we must recognize there is still more to be done. In Côte d’Ivoire—the largest global producer of cocoa—farmers continue to fear the reemergence of black flies that transmit river blindness. Continued investments in NTD control can have a greater impact far beyond health by promoting worker productivity, educational attainment, and better birth outcomes for mothers and children.

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    • The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is a major advocacy and resource mobilization initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)--a group of disabling, disfiguring, and deadly diseases affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day.
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