Over the past month, we’ve heard many times from the neglected tropical disease (NTD) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) communities about the importance of cross-sector collaboration (see here and here). Momentum has especially been building, though, in the past two weeks.
Just last week, as the part of events recognizing the new commitments from WaterAid and Dubai Cares that will advance integrated deworming and WASH interventions.
This week, the Global Network and partners Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Partnership – to discuss the cost-effective and sustainable strategies our sectors and private industry can take.
Another important conversation also occurred this week: “Why water and toilets matter in foreign aid,” hosted by WaterAid at the National Press Club. Barbara Frost, chief executive of WaterAid America spoke about how WASH can advance many U.S. interests. WaterAid also invited Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Global Network’s managing director, to weigh in about the health implications of poor WASH circumstances.
Lisa observed that there’s been increasing “recognition that development component isn’t just good for moral authority but that it helps bolster defense and diplomacy components.” The 2012 National Intelligence Estimate on Global Water Security emphasizes that water can be a tool of conflict or peace and makes the connection that poverty reduction – through WASH – can increase security.
Barbara then stressed the impact that WASH has on “women’s health, girls’ lives, empowerment and what it means for their healthy development.” For instance, in many vulnerable communities, “girls drop out of school because they are carrying water or because there aren’t adequate toilets when they go through puberty.”
In the same way, NTDs disproportionately impact females. When END7 campaign ambassador
Henry, who noted that “dirty water is the vector for so many of the diseases that you see under the microscope,” also reflected on global challenges in the WASH community. Most importantly was that some serious challenges on how aid is targeted.
Global health is a fraction of one percent of the federal $1.012 trillion budget – and the budget for NTDs is even smaller. But this tiny amount has a huge impact, which is why the Global Network is
Then Neeraj emphasized, “this is not an either or measure – we have to do both [WASH and NTDs] to have a significant and sustainable impact on many of these diseases.” While WASH and NTDs “may seem like disparate thematic issues in the development agenda, we are looking at similar thematic platforms” to make positive changes, in schools or during child health weeks.
Ultimately, we will not stop the transmission of NTDs without clean water, improved sanitation, and better hygiene practices, and even with good water, we need to distribute treatments to protect against disease. The Global Network looks forward to continuing its support as collaboration and dialogue between both sectors grows.
This week, the former President of the Republic of Ghana and the Global Network’s Special Envoy for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), John A. Kufuor, joined partners from the U.S. government, NGO community and private sector to discuss ways to increase access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).
Because NTDs many are transmitted through dirty water, poor hygiene and sanitation, infinite opportunities exist for partners from the WASH and NTD communities to work together to create healthier and more prosperous communities – a point highlighted by President Kufuor during his remarks.
“I am confident that we can do much more to reach the most impoverished people around the globe by increasing WASH and health investments and coordinating our individual efforts. Sustainable and effective development rests on the future of integrated programs that take advantage of existing synergies, partnerships and shared resources.”
Further emphasizing the night’s theme of partnerships, the event was hosted by a wide range of organizations including the WASH Advocates. Attendees, hosts and speakers were able to chat, network and share their experiences before the featured presentations.
Global Network’s Managing Director, Neeraj Mistry, opened the event by encouraging the WASH and NTD communities to find cross-cutting points of convergence between these two sectors.
“In times of resource scarcity, we need to make the most of what we have,” he said.
Sam Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction, moderated the discussion. He also emphasized the opportunity to initiate WASH and NTD partnerships right here in D.C., and highlighted the role of InterAction as a platform for bringing people together.
Next, President John Kufuor delivered his keynote address, in which he spoke first-hand about the impact of poor WASH, Guinea worm and other NTDs on the people of Ghana.
“The pain from Guinea worm—like many other high-burden NTDs—would prevent Ghanaians from attending school, tending livestock or working in their fields for weeks at a time and in some cases, permanently. It often forced children to fall behind in their studies and adults to lose their jobs. “
However, Ghana was able to eliminate Guinea worm after promoting awareness of the disease, training WASH and health workers, and expanding access to clean water in rural areas, Kufuor explained. In addition, support from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) enabled Ghana to improve clean water and health in the country.
In closing, Kufuor emphasized the need for collaboration with an African proverb: “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. It is only together that we can create a healthy future free of poverty. “
David Baxter of Tetra Tech’s Institute of Public Private Partnerships, Apollos Nwafor of WaterAid West Africa, Jonathan Nash, the Deputy Acting Vice President of the MCC and Christian Holmes, Global Water Coordinator from USAID all presented unique perspectives regarding the power of partnerships in achieving health goals.
David Baxter highlighted Tetra Tech and the private sector perspective on forging public-private partnerships to increase access to WASH. As David explained, Tetra Tech develops innovative WASH solutions in partnership with NGOs and governments. He noted that institutional capacity building is essential to sustaining gains made from WASH and NTD efforts.
Apollos Nwafor followed with a powerful declaration that everyone everywhere should have access to WASH by 2030, and partnerships will help us get there. He also stressed the importance of public-private partnerships that are pro-poor and inclusive to those who may be otherwise excluded or marginalized.
John Nash and Chris Holmes closed the event, providing a U.S. government perspective. John noted that the MCC works with nongovernmental partners on each and every project in which they invest. Chris Holmes echoed the importance of partnerships and reinforced the need to embrace the private sector in order to accelerate WASH and NTD programs.
The presence of President Kufuor and so many dedicated WASH and NTD advocates at Wednesday night’s event was very encouraging. Growing partnerships between the NTD and WASH sectors and the public and private sectors are contributing to healthier communities across the world, and the Global Network looks forward to advancing these efforts to ensure that universal access to WASH also equates to a world without NTDs.
To view photos from the event, click here.
Two years ago, global health leaders convened in London to hold the most significant international meeting on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in history. The event galvanized major commitments from a diverse set of partners to eliminate or control 10 NTDs by 2020 – these commitments are now known as the London Declaration.
This Wednesday on April 2nd, The Global Network will once again join this unique group of partners to discuss progress toward the promises made in 2012.
Since the London Declaration on NTDs, The US, UK, and the World Bank have deepened their commitments, and NTDs are now being prioritized in global health and development agendas. In addition, control, prevention and research efforts for NTDs have expanded.
The London declaration also sparked new collaboration between public and private partners. These partnerships are identifying innovative, concrete solutions for delivering good health and strong economic futures to the world’s poorest people.
The progress we’ve seen since 2012 is also due in large part to the work of endemic countries in drafting and implementing national NTD plans. Through their national plans, countries burdened by NTDs are funding and driving their own solutions.
We invite you to tune into a live webcast of the April 2nd event in Paris. You’ll hear from Bill Gates, Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization, along with other distinguished panelists.
Feel free to tweet about the event using the hashtag #NTD progress. The live webcast will run from 12:00 to 1:30 EST. To tune in, click here.
By: Mia Wise and Raquel Corona-Parra
On Friday August 30, 2013, the Ministry of Health of Guatemala launched its multi-year, integrated, national plan addressing neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) with support from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The ambitious plan targets the control and elimination of six NTDs by providing deworming medication to children in prioritized municipalities and improving access to clean water in communities affected by NTDs. Even more, Guatemala’s national NTD plan will be linked the country’s Zero Hunger Plan which tackles hunger and malnutrition in the country.
More specifically, this integrated plan will target the control and elimination of onchocerciasis, soil-transmitted helminths (STHs, or intestinal parasites), Chagas disease, leishmaniasis, trachoma, and leprosy from 2013 to 2015. The Guatemalan Minister of Health Jorge Villavicencio said the increased attention placed on these diseases is essential for reducing malnutrition and poverty in Guatemala as these diseases represent an incredible health burden on communities in the country, trapping already marginalized populations in the cycle of poverty.
Even More Good News…
Guatemala was not the only country focused on NTD treatment and control this summer. The Council of Ministers of Health of Central America and the Dominican Republic ( regional meeting on June 27 and 28 in San José, Costa Rica. The Global Network team was happy to collaborate with COMISCA at this meeting – where they shared information on upcoming challenges and solutions in NTD treatment efforts, and global and regional policy activities.
COMISCA is a political faction of the System for Central American Integration (SICA) comprised of the Ministers and Secretariats of Health of eight Member Countries. The Council strives to ensure the right to health care services to the people of Central America and the Dominican Republic, and is influential in determining health care priorities within the region.
The Global Network was delighted that COMISCA recognized the importance of NTD control and elimination with regards to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the 2020 Sustainable Development Goals. The Ministers of Health also approved the addition of NTDs in their closing report – a result that has paved the way for NTD control and elimination action items to be included in the next COMISCA Regional Health Plan.
And More Collaboration…
The Global Network was also invited to participate at the Forum of the Health Sector in Central America and the Dominican Republic (RESSCAD), during its annual meeting held in Guatemala on July 17. RESSCAD meetings serve as another opportunity for integration among the ministers of health of the region.
During the meeting, PAHO Director Dr. Carissa Etienne stressed that NTDs are the clearest example of preventable health inequities. She added that prioritizing these diseases, which affect the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, is a public health, political, and moral imperative. RESSCAD will now be placing a stronger emphasis on intersectoral collaboration and NTD control and will review progress made at the next meeting in 2014.
The launch of Guatemala’s national plan on NTDs and the increased attention to NTDs made by COMISCA and RESSCAD are all great news for the NTD community!