Category Archives: Africa

Nigeria Champions Integrated Approach to NTDs at the World Health Assembly

 

Photo credit: U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers

By Helen Hamilton, on behalf of the UK Coalition against NTDs

The first six months of 2014 have already seen a number of milestones reached for the international neglected tropical disease (NTD) community, including the successful NTD-focused side event at the 67th World Health Assembly (WHA) in May and the celebration of progress made on eliminating river blindness by the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control  at the World Bank. A running theme throughout the discussions at these events has been the importance of taking an integrated approach to eliminating a number of NTDs by the end of the decade.

But what does “an integrated approach” mean in practice? It may mean integration of disease specific interventions into broader public health systems, across different groups of diseases or integration across sectors. Integration is not just another buzzword, but a real approach to effectively controlling this group of diseases. Both evidence and common sense tell us that we cannot expect to achieve and sustain our NTD control and elimination goals unless we also tackle the underlying causes — namely the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (WASH) and  health care access — and do so in a joined-up way.

One example where integration is yielding results is in Nigeria. As a country with one of the heaviest burdens of NTDs globally, and one which has successfully launched its “NTD masterplan” (a multi-year national plan to control and eliminate several NTDs under the London Declaration), it offers a wealth of valuable insights. The WHA side event in May, which was hosted by the Nigerian government and supported by the UK Coalition against NTDs, south-south sharing of learning was central to the discussion.

Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwa, and the Director of Public Health, Dr. Bridget Okoeguale, highlighted what they see as the foundation of success in combating these diseases: building stronger health systems, equipped to deliver and sustain effective control programmes alongside interventions grounded in a public health approach. To this end, Dr. Okoeguale highlighted that Nigeria is working to embed NTD care within primary health care structures to bring together preventive and curative care. She called on the NTD and WASH sectors to work together across departments responsible for Environment, Water, Education, Housing and Media.

This is certainly an approach supported through the Nigerian NTD elimination programme led by Sightsavers, where both local government and global donors such as the UK government aid agency, DFID, have committed funds to control several NTDs. The success of this programme rides on all parties collaborating under a united goal and sharing knowledge and resources. The programme is designed to support the strengthening of the Nigerian health system alongside delivering targeted interventions to eliminate NTDs.

UKCNTD WHA attendees (3)

Creidt: Yael Vellemen, Wateraid

During the WHA event, this approach was supported by both the World Health Organization and international donors, including representatives from DFID and USAID, who emphasised the investments being made into WASH programmes in NTD endemic countries. Dr. Wendy Harrison, Chair of the UK Coalition against NTDs reiterated the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration to meet the WHO 2020 roadmap goals and the need to embed and standardise monitoring of the impact of NTD programmes on health systems.

All parties at the event were in clear agreement that cross-sectoral integration is vital and that without access to safe effective WASH and health services, NTD elimination will not be possible. However, whether or not this happens will depend on the level of political will, leadership and resources dedicated to achieving our goals in a sustainable way. As the recent announcement of £39m by the British Government to help support the elimination of trachoma in highly endemic countries in sub-Saharan Africa reminds us, NTDs have never been as well supported or as prominent on the global health agenda. However there still remains a global $200 million per year funding gap that needs to be addressed if we are to meet the ambitious goals of control and elimination as laid out in the 2012 London Declaration.

We need to make sure that we leverage these global commitments and this momentum to achieve our goals in a way that builds systems to provide safe and effective WASH and health services, and delivers on our commitment to control and eliminate these diseases in a sustainable way.

Download “The Power of Integration: A report from the WHA 2014”.

The UK Coalition against Neglected Tropical Diseases is a collaborative effort by UK organisation that are actively engaged in NTD research and implementation and in advocating for effective and sustainable NTD control programmes.

Find out more about them at www.ntd-coalition.org and follow them on Twitter @UK_NTD. This post also appears on the UK Coalition against NTDs blog.

SAFEly Combatting Trachoma across Africa

 

END7_Malindi_MoScarpelli_web_08

By Anna Massey, Head of Strategic Government Partnerships at Sightsavers

When it comes to tackling the largest infectious cause of blindness in the world – trachoma – it is widely agreed that the SAFE strategy is key in moving towards elimination. Recommended by the World Health organization (WHO), the strategy aims to reduce the burden of the disease, especially in Africa where it is highest, by addressing: Surgery (lid surgery to correct trichiasis); Antibiotics (Zithromax® donated by Pfizer to treat and prevent active infection); Facial cleanliness (to prevent disease transmission); and Environmental change (such as the construction and use of latrines to control flies, and provision of accessible water to allow face washing).

Excitingly, the situation will now change dramatically in six Sub-Saharan countries over the coming five years with the UK government announcing an investment of £39 million to help support the elimination of trachoma in countries like Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania through the SAFE strategy. Being implemented by a consortium of International Coalition for Trachoma Control (ICTC) members and managed by NGO Sightsavers, programme work will begin on the ground in Autumn.

The burden of the disease has already largely been surveyed in these countries, through the UK government supported Global Trachoma Mapping Programme (GTMP). For example Ethiopia, where the GTMP has supported the Ministry of Health to examine 430,000 people across seven regions, has approximately 30 per cent of the known global trachoma burden, so this support is much needed.

For countries such as Chad this crucial investment will see a rapid expansion of the nascent trachoma programmes and will hopefully be a catalyst for further support in fighting trachoma and stopping people needlessly living in pain and ultimately losing their sight.

Whilst this project will see 165,000 trichiasis surgeries performed and almost 10 million people treated with antibiotics, in addition to increasing access to water and instigating behavioural changes to reduce transmission of the disease, there is further good news for the broader NTD community. The implementation of the SAFE strategy and particularly the F&E components will also yield broader benefits including potential reductions in the burden of other infectious diseases, including cholera, typhoid and other NTDs (schistosomiasis, STH, Guinea worm), plus other diarrheal illnesses.

Through the programme, links will be made with other NTD projects in these countries to ensure a holistic push to make a dent in the significant and debilitating burden placed on these poor communities by NTDs such as trachoma. The provision of infrastructure around this planned scale-up of SAFE activities will support control of trachoma and provide a platform for strengthening other NTDs and health interventions.

The ICTC programme Advisory Committee will be providing technical and quality assurance guidance for the programme, which will include support from a series of structured working groups on technical programmatic practices.

Sightsavers itself will be drawing on its expertise of working with partners and Ministries of Health in African nations through other trachoma-related projects such as GTMP, The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust Trachoma Initiative and a DFID-funded UNITED programme to tackle NTDs in Nigeria to ensure efficiencies, collaborations and ultimately success!

New World Bank Video Shows an Amazing River Blindness Success Story

 

APOC

To celebrate the remarkable progress made against river blindness (onchocerciasis) in Africa since the formation of a tremendous public-private partnership to combat the disease forty years ago, global partners recently gathered at World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. Leaders poignantly spoke about how this country-owned, community driven effort — the World Bank’s first health project — carried out through the Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP) between 1974-2005, and the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) between 2005-present, is now reaching 100 million people in 31 countries annually thanks to bold visions, clear strategies and the collaboration of partners.

To coincide with OCP/APOC’s 40th anniversary, a new World Bank video narrates the unlikely story of how insecticide and Mectizan (ivermectin) — a pill donated by Merck for free for as long as needed — have transformed the lives of millions of people. Generating blindness, impaired vision and severe itching, among other effects, river blindness once devastated entire communities. The disease left people unable to farm for sustenance and a living, inhabit land in river valleys and take care of their families.

But, with insecticide sprayed by helicopters, and eventually the distribution of ivermectin in all affected countries, some areas are free of the disease. 25 million hectares of arable land — enough to feed 17 million people — are now freed up for use.

By 2025, we can eliminate river blindness in Africa and end the cycle of poverty caused by this horrific disease. But, we must continue to mobilize and pool resources, increase country leadership and integrate efforts to accomplish this goal.

Congratulations to all of the APOC partners fighting for a brighter, healthier future!

Make sure to watch the full video:

Ghana Launches NTD Master Plan, Mass Drug Administration Campaign, Celebrates Billionth NTD Treatment

 

The Global Network is happy to share END in Africa’s announcement congratulating Ghana on the launch of its NTD master plan and and 2014 strategic mass drug administration campaign. View the original post here

On Thursday, July 3, 2014, the Government of Ghana launched both its Ghana Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) master plan and its 2014 strategic mass drug administration (MDA) campaign, while also celebrating the One Billionth NTD Treatment delivered globally with USAID support. USAID funds the END in Africa project, which supports Ghana Health Services (GHS) and the Ghana’s NTD program in providing medicines that protect 26.3 million Ghanaians from contracting NTDs such as trachoma, onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths.

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey with Queen Mothers from the Greater Accra Region

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey with Queen Mothers from the Greater Accra Region at Ghana NTD Master Plan and 2014 MDA Campaign Launch. Photo: FHI360

At a colorful event at Accra’s La Beach Hotel today, Ghana’s Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey presided over the launch of the country’s NTD master plan and 2014 MDA campaign. Along with Acting Director of USAID/Ghana Peter Trenchard, the Hon. Minister Ayittey presented certificates and awards to Community Health Volunteer Madam Mary Becheyiri and NTD Program Technical Officer Mr. Alhassan Ahmed, who represented the many thousands of unsung heroes in Ghana’s NTD elimination and control efforts.

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey and USAID/Ghana Acting Director Andrew Karas Present Award to Community Health Volunteer Madam Mary Becheyiri, who was selected as one of Ghana's NTD unsung heroes

Ghana Minister of Health Hon. Sherry Ayittey and USAID/Ghana Acting Director Peter Trenchard Present Award to Community Health Volunteer Madam Mary Becheyiri, who was selected as one of Ghana’s NTD unsung heroes. Photo: FHI360

Under the direction of Rebecca Ackwonu, Public Relations Officer for the Director General of the GHS and Master of Ceremonies for today’s event, a symbolic MDA took place, led by a community health volunteer. The event was chaired by Nii La Mantse, a paramount chief of La, where the event took place.

Also in attendance were Acting Director of USAID’s Ghana Mission Peter Trenchard, Queen mothers from the Greater Accra Region, Director General of the Ghana Health Service Dr. Ebenezar Appiah-Denkyira, Ghana NTD Programme Manager Dr. Nana Kwadwo Biritwum, as well as many other directors and programme managers from the Ghana Health Service. NTD partners from organizations such as END in Africa, FH1360, the Volta River Authority, the Partnership for Child Development, Liverpool Centre for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), Sight Savers Ghana, the African Programme for Onchocerciasis Control (APOC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) were also represented.

For an overview of the day’s activities, see the Ghana Event Program Agenda.

Read the story on the event published in Ghana’s Daily Graphic Newspaper.