Category Archives: END Fund

Summiting to See the End of Neglected Tropical Diseases

 

SummittoseetheEND

 

Eliminating the most prevalent neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) from our planet is an ambitious goal. It requires commitment, patience, know-how and dedication: qualities that are also required to summit Mount Kilimanjaro. This summer, the END Fund together with dedicated visionaries, NTD experts, humanitarians and business entrepreneurs, will trek to the top of one of the world’s highest peaks while raising awareness and resources for the fight against NTDs as part of the organization’s initiative, Summit to See the END.

According to Sarah Marchal Murray, Senior Vice President of the END Fund, Summit to See the END came into fruition after a new board member and avid hiker joined the END Fund team this past summer. His combined passion for hiking and ending NTDs in children fueled the idea. In November, the END Fund turned this idea into a reality as they “soft launched” the project and started to spread the word amongst the END Fund community.

The ultimate goal of the journey is three-fold:

  1. to demonstrate the exhilaration that comes from tackling the 19,341 ft summit and draw the parallel in tackling NTDs,
  2. to raise awareness about NTDs and how they affect the most impoverished populations, and
  3. to mobilize crucial donations for the END Fund’s work in 2014 and beyond.

Hikers also pledge to reach out to their networks to help achieve these goals, in addition to making an initial individual commitment. After summiting Kilimanjaro, they will also participate in an NTD learning day where they’ll be able to see NTD control programs in action, interact with those closest to the cause, and meet members of a community affected by these debilitating and disfiguring diseases.

But the journey to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro is far more meaningful than a set of goals typed on a website. Sarah sees this trek as a life-changing and transformative journey that requires those involved to deliberately reflect on their own commitment to ending NTDs, as well as the lives of those suffering from these debilitating diseases.

Besides getting the body and mind in shape for the hike, the training process also provides the hikers with another way to connect with their families and communities and increase NTD awareness.

The END Fund hopes that the experience will leave a lasting impression, fueling the hiker’s engagement with the NTD cause and motivating each hiker to share their experiences with those close to them – further expanding the network and increasing awareness for NTDs.

“Providing our community with a link to the people we serve was important to us. We think the summit is symbolically significant: if each individual hiker comes home and shares with their networks and circles how it personally touches them, there’s a ripple effect,” Sarah explained. “While financial resources are imperative if the NTD community is going to reach our aims of control and eradication by 2020, there is great power in the amplification of our voices amongst each hiker’s personal circles.”

For hikers like Sarah, this experience is a very personal one. In a letter addressed to her friends and family, she explained why she is making the trek.

“Partially because of where my husband and I are lucky enough to live, we won’t have to worry about our daughter contracting one of the five disabling, debilitating and deadly diseases known as NTDs. A group of parasitic and bacterial infections, they affect nearly 800 million children and are the cause of death for over 500,000 people per year.”

“So [I am hiking] to prove to myself and my daughter that anything is possible.” In addition, she writes, “[I am hiking] so that the only worms I need to educate my daughter about live in the ground and not inside children her own age.”

Ultimately, like the fight to end NTDs, the preparation and hike up Mount Kilimanjaro is a marathon – not just a sprint.

“NTDs won’t be wiped off the planet this year,” Sarah said. But if we concentrate our efforts, join together with the growing international movement committed to seeing their END, and continue to push forward, “we can summit to see the END in our lifetimes.”

Learn more about the END Fund and Summit to See the END.

A Minute with NTD expert: Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer of the END Fund

END Fund logo

At the recent “Uniting to Combat NTDs: Translating the London Declaration into Action,” we had a chance to catch up with Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer of the END Fund. The END Fund is a private philanthropic fund mobilizing resources for neglected tropical diseases in Africa.

Global Network: What does it take for exposed individuals to fight NTDs?

Ellen Agler: When I was in Mali, I also got a chance to see in addition to the mass drug administration other aspects of the program. There is a huge backlog of trichiasis surgery. Blinding trachoma, if it starts advancing, it is incredibly painful… It feels like sand going over your cornea, and you will go blind if you don’t get this surgery in the advanced stages.

And to see how simple of a surgery it was- that it really only took 10 or 15 minutes. [END Fund] do have this incredible message of about 50 cents per person per year can protect you against these seven diseases that cause disability, cause suffering, cause blindness, and really change the trajectory of your life. And that is a simple message, and I think that we’re all rallying to ensure that we can prevent these diseases, we can treat them in the early stage so that no one has to suffer those diseases.

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The End is in Sight: Progress towards Trachoma Control and Elimination

 

Trachoma is one of the world’s leading cause of preventable blindness, affecting populations prone to poverty and with limited access to clean water and sanitation. While the disease is primarily transmitted through contact with the infected person’s eye discharge, it can also be carried through flies. As a bacterial infection, trachoma causes scarring on the inside of an eyelid and repeated exposure can eventually lead to trichiasis, when the eyelids turn inwards. The impacts of trichiasis over time – eyelashes scraping against the cornea each time the eye blinks – leads to blindness.

This devastating disease is most commonly found in poor communities, often in Africa and Asia. However, in a recent publication discussing the need for elimination and control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including trachoma, Sabin president Dr. Peter  Hotez and his co-authors stressed the high rates of disease burden in the Oceania region (Australia and the Pacific Islands).

In an interview with Girish Sawlani of ABC Radio Australia, Dr. Hotez discussed the unexpectedly high rate of NTDs within populous and poor regions in Oceania, such as Papua New Guinea and the Aboriginal populations in Australia. He compared his concern for the “hidden burden of disease” to the exposure of NTDs in places like Sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia. Trachoma currently impacts approximately 41 million people across 57 different countries that don’t have access to proper resources or knowledge that would assist in reducing exposure to the disease.

In spite of the highly endemic situation, strides have been made to control or even eliminate trachoma across various platforms. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been using a comprehensive public health strategy, better known as SAFE, to treat trachoma patients through a combination of surgery (S), antibiotics (A), facial cleanliness (F) and environmental educational efforts (E). In Australia, professor of indigenous eye health at Melbourne University, Hugh Taylor, has further encouraged research and action against trachoma. Taylor estimates that trachoma and related blindness can be “virtually eliminated in five years” with access to appropriate funds in Australia.

The cooperation between organizations working to control trachoma in the Oceanic region and government aid figures will play a critical role in not only improving health concerns, but also addressing issues regarding the economy and social action. AusAID is currently working with organizations, such as the Fred Hollows Foundation, to strengthen partnerships and stimulate research and action in order to bring an end to the spread of trachoma in the region.

Dubai Cares Donates 1 million USD to combat NTDs

Dubai Cares, a United Arab Emirates based philanthropic organization recently announced that it will donate Dh3.67 million (1 million USD) for a school-based de-worming program that will treat children in Angola.

Partnering up with The END Fund, the first private donor-advised fund dedicated to NTDs, Dubai Cares has plans to treat children across five districts. This contribution will move the END Fund closer to its goal of treating over 50 million people in the next five years.

Speaking with news outlet, Trade Arabia, The END Fund’s chairman William Campbell stated that, “This pioneering investment in partnership with the END Fund adds further momentum behind our goal of eradicating Africa’s seven most prevalent NTDs by 2020.  The END Fund offers an exceptional social investment opportunity for those interested in transforming millions of lives and getting children back into school.” He also thanked Dubai Cares, “for its generosity in providing treatments for over one million children in some of the poorest areas of the world.”

Launched in 2007 by Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Cares is a philanthropic organization that works to improve children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries. Global Network is a partner of Dubai Cares.  Click here to learn more about the organization.

Click here to learn more about The END Fund.