Category Archives: END7

Measuring the District Health Sister of Kenema, Sierra Leone to determine the appropriate dosage of NTD medicine for her. Photo: FHI360

Down But Not Out: Sierra Leone’s NTD Program Restarts Activities as the Ebola Threat Subsides

It all started a year and a half ago in Guinea, West Africa, when in December 2013, the country reported several cases of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). By March 2014, the outbreak had spread to neighboring Liberia. In May, it reached also Sierra Leone, dealing a huge blow the country’s public health system, including its Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) program.

Sierra Leone is a poor West African country with poor health indicators. A decade earlier, a twelve-year civil war (1991-2002) had devastated the economy and almost brought the entire health care system to a standstill. Nevertheless, the country made progress in revamping its socio-economic situation after the war, and the outlook appeared optimistic. In the health arena, FHI 360 was in the forefront of assisting Sierra Leone in rebuilding its public health system. Through the USAID-funded END in Africa project, FHI 360 has supported a successful integrated NTD program since 2010 in Sierra Leone that targets 7 NTDs: lymphatic filariasis (LF), schistosomiasis (SCH), trachoma, onchocerciasis (oncho) and three soil-transmitted helminthes (STH).

Shortly after the EVD outbreak began in Sierra Leone, all public health program activities were suspended in the country, including those involving NTDs. Consequently, the NTD Program (NTDP) was unable to provide any mass NTD treatments in Sierra Leone in 2014, as the EVD outbreak had spread to all 14 districts in the country, bringing the country to a virtual stand-still.

Almost an entire year passed before the NTDP was able to resume mass NTD treatments. Even now, three of the country’s 14 districts (the Western Urban, Kambia and Port Loko districts) are still working toward containing the outbreak.[1] However, mass drug administration (MDA) for LF, Oncho, STH and SCH (baseline studies have shown that trachoma is not endemic in Sierra Leone) was successfully resumed in May 2015, on the heels of a recent nationwide malaria MDA and vaccination campaign.

Preparing for Sierra Leone’s 2015 NTD MDA

After a year-long interruption in mass treatment, Sierra Leone’s national NTDP and Helen Keller International (HKI), END in Africa’s sub-grantee in Sierra Leone, carefully planned and carried out many preparatory activities prior to embarking on the country’s 2015 NTD MDA campaign. These included conducting:

  • An NTD stakeholders meeting to plan the resumption of NTD activities in Sierra Leone (February 2015).
  • A national refresher training session for trainers in the Bo district (March 7, 2015).
  • A refresher training for peripheral health unit (PHU) district personnel (March 24 – April 4, 2015).
  • Social mobilization through radio discussions and community meetings in every community targeted for treatment in 12 provincial districts (April 2015).
  • Special advocacy and social mobilization meetings in the 3 districts that failed the last pre-transmission assessment surveys (pre-TAS) for LF conducted in 2013 (Koinadugu, Bombali and Kailahun districts). These meetings targeted paramount, section and village chiefs, people in the community, health workers and community volunteers such as community directed distributors (CDDs).
  • Advocacy and social mobilization meetings led by the district health management teams (DHMTs) under the supervision of the NTDP and partner organizations in all 12 provincial districts (May 2015).
  • Training for the CDDs, led by PHU staff supervised by DHMTs, the NTDP and partner organizations (May 2015).

 

Leading by Example to Regain Trust

As the MDA was getting underway in late May 2015, END in Africa Technical Advisor (TA) Dr. Joseph Koroma visited the community of Komende Luyama in the Kenema district, which was conducting MDA for LF, oncho and STH.

“The MDA in Komende Luyama was just getting started on the day of my visit,” Dr. Koroma said. “Only after Chief Musa Lahai, the village chief, and the village’s two community nurses took the NTD treatment, would the people in the community consent to taking the treatment themselves.” He added that three members of the district health team who had accompanied him to the village, also took the NTD treatment in front of community members to further convince people to take the treatment.

“END in Africa will continue to support HKI and the national NTDP in the process of reestablishing NTD program activities in Sierra Leone, so that the effect of the EVD on NTD control and elimination efforts will be minimal,” he said. While there’s a clear need for special social mobilization in order to convince community members to take the NTD treatment, given the country’s terrible experience with EVD, early indications are that Sierra Leone’s 2015 MDA will ultimately be considered a success.

[1]Sierra Leone cannot be declared EVD-free until every health district in the country has no new cases for at least 42 consecutive days. According to the MOH EVD situation report of June 17, 2015, 11 of Sierra Leone’s 14 health districts have not reported any new EVD cases in the past 42 days or longer. They include: Pujehun and Kailahun, with no new cases for over 6 months; Bonthe and Bo, with no new cases for over 5 months; Kenema, Kono, Tonkolili and Moyamba, with no new cases for over 3 months; and Bombali, Koinadugu and Western Rural, with no new cases in 81, 60 and 55 days, respectively. Three districts still intermittently report new EVD cases (1-3 per day): Western Urban district has gone 18 days without a new case, but Kambia and Port Loko each had 1 new confirmed case during reporting period.

Photo: Measuring the District Health Sister of Kenema, Sierra Leone to determine the appropriate dosage of NTD medicine for her. Credit: FHI360

This blog was originally published on the End Neglected Tropical Diseases in Africa blog.

Introducing Lauren Crossman, March’s END7 Student of the Month

 

LaurenEND7Each month, END7 honors one student who has made a significant contribution to our growing movement of student advocates dedicated to seeing the end of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). We are very proud to introduce our March 2015 Student of the Month, Lauren Crossman, the END7 Student Advisory Board representative for the University of Cincinnati. Lauren, a third year pre-med student studying Biology at UC, shares:

“A month prior to learning about the END7 campaign last summer, I was on a study abroad trip in Accra, Ghana learning about the prevalence of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, as well as the nation’s public health policies and infrastructures. Upon returning from Ghana, a few classmates from the trip and I decided to attend the 5th Annual Consortium of Universities for Global Health conference in Washington, D.C. There, we met Emily Conron, END7’s Student Outreach Coordinator, and we were highly impressed by the campaign’s advocacy efforts and network of passionate students. As a student with a desire to become more involved in global health in a sustainable way, I was more than excited to become a part of the END7 campaign. UC students Malini Ramudit, Paige Craig, Madeline Kincaid, Angelica Hardee and I are thrilled to have started END7 as an official student organization at the University of Cincinnati with the goal of educating the UC community about NTDs through the promotion of advocacy actions to ensure that NTDs remain a political priority, and fundraising to finance the mass distribution of drugs to treat and prevent NTDs.

“This semester, we have given presentations on NTDs and the END7 campaign to several classes and have collected more than one hundred signatures on END7’s petition to protect funding for the USAID NTD Program in the 2016 federal budget. At our meeting this week, we are excited to have a scientist from the Environmental Protection agency (EPA) come in to discuss his experience with water infrastructure in the Caribbean and his current research at the EPA. On World Health Day, we will be co-hosting a global health panel with other student organizations to discuss health inequity and student involvement in global health. I am enthusiastic to continue working with my peers to secure an increase in federal NTD funding and a decrease in NTD prevalence worldwide!”

We are so grateful for Lauren’s continued commitment to END7 and are excited to see our community of student supporters like her grow. If you are ready to get your school involved in END7’s work, contact the END7’s student outreach coordinator at Emily.Conron@sabin.org to learn how you can get started!

Introducing Tahseen Karim, February’s END7 Student of the Month

 

Tahseen at galaEach month, END7 honors one student who has made a significant contribution to our growing movement of student advocates dedicated to seeing the end of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). We are very proud to introduce our February Student of the Month, Tahseen Karim, who joined the END7 Student Advisory Board just last month. Tahseen, a first-year medical student at UT Houston, shares:

“I have always truly enjoyed volunteering and philanthropy. However, coming in to medical school, I was under the impression that there would not be any time for service. I imagined my schedule filled with endless lectures, mandatory meetings and power naps. After a few weeks in, these expectations became realities. But rather than break me down, I found that my new stressful lifestyle actually empowered me. As a pre-professional at one of the state’s best medical schools located in the world’s largest medical center, I felt that I was in a position to do great things. With newfound ambition, I ran for student government, and became the Service Senator of the UT Houston Class of 2018. I made it my priority to utilize my influence in the community as a medical student to make a difference in the world.

Seeking out a potential class charity to support for the year, I soon learned about END7 from other medical students who knew Emily Conron, the campaign’s Student Outreach Coordinator. My classmates did not hesitate to choose END7 as our class charity, and we quickly began to work toward our goal of raising $25,000. A semi-formal banquet held in February was our very first fundraising event of the year. I was very proud of everyone who worked so hard while handling a full course load to help make this event successful. It was truly inspiring to see so many of my classmates believe in a good cause enough to sacrifice time and effort for it. We raised over $5,000 in one night and hope to continue achieving positive outcomes in the future. I can tell our futures as physicians as well as humanitarians look promising.”

We are so grateful for Tahseen’s continued commitment to END7 and are excited to see our community of student supporters like him grow. If you are ready to get your school involved in END7’s work, contact the END7’s student outreach coordinator at Emily.Conron@sabin.org to learn how you can get started!