This was not your average school day in Sierra Leone. On July 8th, 2013, thousands of children in the Western Area Rural District arrived to class and received a life-changing packet of pills. While small and unassuming, these pills change lives and have the power to protect each child from debilitating and painful neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
Sierra Leone is home to some of the poorest health conditions in the world. Intestinal worms affect the entire population of the country – leaving millions of children sick, tired, anemic and undernourished. But thanks to you, we were able to ensure more than 58,000 of these children remain healthy and protected from NTDs for an entire year! Here’s how we did it together:
This April we showed you the stark human toll an NTD called schistosomiasis has on people in Sierra Leone. Our short film motivated thousands of you to take action by donating money and sharing our message. And with your help, END7 was able to support our partners on the ground in Sierra Leone this July.
Helen Keller International and the government of Sierra Leone distributed deworming medicine to treat and protect 58,365 children against NTDs. But this was no easy task.
The distribution of deworming medicine took place at multiple schools in the Western Area Rural District of the country. Zonal advisors and teachers across the region had to be trained in pill distribution and mass drug administration (MDA) in order to carry out the task at hand. Once training was completed, the teachers were ready to distribute medicine to thousands of children, and the children were ready to go to school to receive the life-saving medicine on July 8th. Together, we created 58,365 success stories in just one school day.
But that’s not where this story ends. The government of Sierra Leone is continuing the task of treating every child in the country against NTDs. Sierra Leone’s Neglected Tropical Disease Control Program plans to control and eliminate these diseases by 2015 and is working aggressively to do so. Even more, Helen Keller International, who’s been working in the country since 2002, is dedicated to seeing the end of NTDs in the country. Throughout HKI’s 12 years in-country, they’ve completed surveys on the prevalence of NTDs in Sierra Leone in addition to providing training and education so that Community Directed Distributors can distribute multiple treatments at the same time. We know our collective efforts will make a big difference in the lives of children living in Sierra Leone.
The July MDA in Sierra Leone demonstrates the effectiveness of NTD treatment when coordinated through already established institutions like local schools. Because children are so vulnerable to the effects of NTDs, school systems offer a unique and effective way to provide treatment to children who are infected or at risk of infection.
To date, END7 funds have contributed to several school-based deworming programs. But with your help, we can double – or even triple(!) – the number of school kids reached across the world! Will you donate? Together we can see the end.