Category Archives: END7

Help Us Protect U.S. Funding for NTDs – a Cause Worth the Investment

 

In January, we celebrated the largest increase in U.S. funding for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) since 2010.  Yet the party was cut short by the disappointing news that President Obama’s FY15 budget request recommended cutting NTD funding by more than 13%, down to just $86.5 million. Considering the great strides the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) NTD Program has made in improving health around the world, cutting funding now would be a huge mistake.

Will you help protect U.S. funding for NTD programs? Send a letter now.

Investing in NTDs is a smart, cost-effective way to boost the health and economic prosperity of millions of people worldwide. 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.

Capture_chart

InterAction, an alliance of nonprofits, emphasized this point in their annual Choose to Invest report – a publication which provides members of Congress with funding recommendations for U.S. foreign assistance programs based on experience from the field. Under the leadership of the Global Network and others in the NTD community, InterAction recommended that the U.S. program for NTDs be funded at $125 million in FY15.

Sahr Gando, a miner from Sierra Leone

Sahr Gando, a miner from Sierra Leone

An increase in funding for NTDs means effective programs, like this one in Sierra Leone, will continue to run. Last year, the USAID NTD Program, together with partners, assisted Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health in providing almost half a million people in the country, including Sahr Gando, with life-saving medicines. After receiving treatment, Sahr Gando was able to go back to work and support his family – a task which may have been impossible if treatment never arrived.

Together, we can ensure NTD programs like the one in Sierra Leone are protected – or even improved.

END7 recently launched a campaign to protect NTD funding. Click here to send a letter to Congresswomen Granger and Lowey—longtime advocates of NTDs and leaders of the House appropriations subcommittee that focuses on global health and foreign assistance funding―to thank them for their continued support for NTD programs and urge them to maintain or even increase funding for NTDs in FY15.

Thanks for taking a stand with us.

One Week, One Hope: A Myanmar Free of NTDs

 

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) have a crippling affect on the people of Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in Asia. A staggering 80% of the population is at risk for one or more of these parasitic and bacterial infections which can cause severe pain and disfigurement. Despite this, Myanmar is making progress in the fight against NTDs due in large part to an unprecedented and ambitious campaign that took place over just one week in September, 2013.

Our new video shows how thousands of health workers and volunteers came together to help end the burden of NTDs in Myanmar. Watch it here:

With the support of END7 and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Myanmar Ministry of Health protected more than 36 million people from lymphatic filariasis (LF) and intestinal worms.

The one-week campaign required careful coordination beginning with the national government and ending with local communities. First, the donated medicines arrived in country and were transported to more than 200 townships across Myanmar. For this program, more than 4,000 health workers and 90,000 volunteers were trained on how to distribute these medicines used to protect people from NTDs. Trainings took place in hospitals, and even in monasteries.

Once trained, the health workers carried out the large scale mass drug administration (MDA) by traveling door to door and visiting schools and community centers. They spent time talking to people about the importance of these medicines and the impact of NTDs. Teachers, community organizations, NGOs and other partners all played a big part in making sure that these medicines are distributed and helped protect families in Myanmar.

The result of this massive effort is millions of children like 7-year old Pwint Yamone Thin will be able to learn, play and be the healthy children they’re meant to be. It means that millions of mothers and fathers will not worry about losing their livelihoods due to debilitating illness or swelling of their limbs.

And the future looks promising. Plans for a 2014 MDA are already underway and Myanmar’s government plans to continue treatment until NTD transmission has stopped in all districts. Encouragingly, six districts in Myanmar have already completed the necessary number of MDAs to stop transmission of LF. If NTD treatment continues to be prioritized in Myanmar, the country can achieve its goal of eliminating NTDs by 2020. Lack of available resources to implement the program and the need for greater public awareness on NTD treatment and control are the primary challenges now.

Will you help raise awareness by sharing our video today? Together we can create a brighter future for millions of children in Myanmar.

Highlighting the Women of Orissa on International Women’s Day

 

Anupama standing with the women she met at the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA)

Anupama standing with the women she met at the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA)

In honor of International Women’s Day, I’m sharing the stories of a group of women living in Orissa State, India. Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to a community center in Banamalipur run by the Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), an NGO that works on a range of development and health issues, including morbidity management and disability prevention from lymphatic filariasis (LF). LF is a painful and disfiguring neglected tropical disease (NTD) that impacts more than 20 million people across India.

At the community center, I was introduced to a group of women suffering from the impacts of long-term LF infection. Many of them were grandmothers and mothers, and while we needed a translator to speak to each other, we were full of smiles and eager to learn about one another.

The women I met spoke openly and honestly with me about the challenges they face as women living with LF. Some of the women described how their disease impacted not only themselves, but their daughters as well.

Women in Orissa State, India

Sulochana Behara, 43, from Dhalapathar village, for example, has five healthy daughters for whom she’s having trouble finding grooms; many people incorrectly believe that the swelling of her leg caused by LF is hereditary and that her daughters will also develop this same disability.

The visible signs of LF, which include swelling and inflammation of the extremities, often do not present themselves until adult age. In fact, the average age of the individuals with LF that CASA works with is about 57. Yet one woman I met explained she began noticing symptoms when she was only 12 years old. Now 40, she explained with tears in her eyes that she never married because of the stigma she faced.

In addition to the social stigma, LF also makes it hard for women to work and live comfortably. Many women explained that even working at home was difficult and that they couldn’t sit in certain positions for long periods of time because of the pain they suffered.

For these women, CASA is a welcomed respite from the stigma and challenges they often face as women living with LF. Staff and volunteers who work at CASA help the women wash and care for their swollen legs. The health workers carefully cleanse the women’s skin to remove bacteria. This process can reduce or reverse skin or tissue damage. This type of care does not cure, but can manage, the symptoms and progression of LF.

Unfortunately, the experiences of the women I met are not unique. Millions of women in India are living with or are at risk of contracting LF. As a whole, India bears 45 percent of the world’s population living at risk for LF.

WOMENSDAY (1)I am hopeful that with the support of our celebrity Ambassador, Abhishek Bachchan who accompanied me on the trip, we can help give voice to the stories and experiences of these women and end the stigma that they face. I am also hopeful that India’s efforts to eliminate LF will help protect millions of women from having to deal with the pain, disability and stigma of LF.

This International Women’s day, let’s share these women’s stories and raise the awareness needed to ensure that no woman lives a life of pain and stigmatization due to this preventable disease.

photos by Vivek Singh

Introducing Grace Gannon: END7 February Student of the Month

 

Grace GannonEach 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, Grace Gannon, who has distinguished herself as one of our most passionate and talented student leaders as an inaugural member of the END7 Student Advisory Board. Grace, a junior at the University of Texas-Austin studying public health, shares:

“The past seven months have by far been the best months of my life—oddly enough, due to a group of seven deadly diseases. I first heard about neglected tropical diseases from the book Forgotten People, Forgotten Diseases. I read the book over the summer and was fascinate​d with NTDs and their crippling effects in developing regions. I then had the privilege of meeting with the author, Dr. Peter Hotez of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, to ask what I as a student could do to make a difference for people suffering from NTDs. Dr. Hotez encouraged me that advocating for NTD treatment did not have to wait until I graduated from medical school, equipped with the necessary tools to treat infected persons. He convinced me that by involving the UT community, with a student body of over 50,000 and one of the most extensive and organized alumni networks in the country, I could begin to make a difference right away. Immediately I accepted the challenge, and what an incredible journey it has been.”

Grace founded END7 at UT in August of 2013 to involve her community in her new-found passion. She has formed a vibrant group of student advocates at UT in just a few months. “Through END7 at UT,” she continues, “I am able to put my passion for fighting NTDs into direct action. END7 at UT is reaching out to the UT and greater Austin communities to educate people about NTDs. Our goal is to enlighten the public to the widespread suffering that is silently prevailing across the developing world. We believe in health as a human right and want to educate and raise funds to support successful public health interventions such as rapid impact packages of NTD drugs.

UT Valentines Day

So far, END7 at UT has hosted two successful fundraisers on campus and has raised over $1,000 through our online fundraising page. Moving forward, we plan to host several awareness events, educating students to be effective advocates for NTD treatment programs. Overall, having the opportunity to work with END7 has been an incredible honor, and I cannot wait to see what END7 at UT will be able to accomplish.”

We are so grateful for Grace’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 student coordinator Emily on Facebook or at Emily.Conron@sabin.org to learn how you can get started!