By Ashley Schmidt
On March 20, 2013 the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases participated in the 4th Annual World Water Day Congressional Advocacy Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. This event brought together non-governmental organizations (NGOs), faith based organizations and private sector partners who joined together to advocate for issues of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The Global Network’s participation in World Water Day further shed light on the interconnectedness of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and health to WASH related programs.
The Global Network participated in a day of meetings with Congressional offices addressing, the importance of providing safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for those in need. We noted the role water plays in NTD control and elimination and asked offices to support the re-introduction of WASH legislation, specifically the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act. Congressional members and their staff were very receptive to the messages the WASH community shared. The Global Network specifically highlighted that in addition to drugs to treat and control NTDs (like USAID’s successful NTD program), safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are a key part of a comprehensive strategy to prevent re-infection and eliminate NTDs. Furthermore, the Global Network noted that monitoring the reduction of NTDs is one way to assess the success of WASH programs.
The day’s activities ended in an evening reception in the Capitol Visitor’s Center to celebrate the hard work of all participants and highlight the on-going bipartisan support for the Water for the World Act. Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX) thanked the audience for all their hard work and continued dedication and support of WASH issues. During the evening event, the Global Network shared a compelling video on NTDs and water, distributed a factsheet on the linkages between NTDs and WASH and provided a few brightly colored 3D View Finders displaying individual NTDs—an exhibit highlight!
World Water Day was successful in demonstrating the breadth of support for WASH issues among varying organizations, building support for WASH legislation and raising direct awareness of WASH and NTD issues. Advocacy opportunities like these allow the Global Network to reach beyond the traditional global health audience and en sure that congressional members are aware of the importance of tackling NTDs to achieve broader US development goals.