Category Archives: END7

END7 Students Are Gearing Up for a Record-Breaking #GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday banner_1We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now we have Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back, celebrated each year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States (December 1 this year). Giving Tuesday was launched in 2012 by 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City, to celebrate and encourage giving. Now in its fourth year, Giving Tuesday is a global celebration of giving, fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. In 2014, over 27,000 nonprofits in 68 countries participated in Giving Tuesday, raising over $46 million for social causes. Beyond dollars and cents, Giving Tuesday has become a social media phenomenon: in 2014, the hashtag #GivingTuesday was used 764,000 times and trended for 11 hours on Twitter, raising awareness of social causes.

Giving Tuesday collageIn 2014, END7 launched a Giving Tuesday student fundraising competition, netting $10,154 from 22 participating schools — enough to treat 20,000 children for seven NTDs. This year, as our student community has grown around the world, we’re setting our sights even higher, with a goal of raising $20,000 from dozens of schools worldwide. You can see the list of schools who have signed on to participate on our Giving Tuesday page, where you can choose a fundraising campaign to support on December 1.

To reach this ambitious goal, END7 students around the world will hold bake sales, email friends and family, post all over social media, and rally their classmates to support the fight against NTDs. The timing of this effort is ideal as END7 supporters reflect on all of the progress made in the fight against NTDs in 2015. In the past three months, the United Nations endorsed a goal to end the epidemic of NTDs as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (and moved forward with the inclusion of an indicator to measure progress), Mexico announced their official elimination of the NTD river blindness, and the Nobel Prize in Medicine was jointly awarded to scientists who developed drugs that have saved millions of lives from NTDs and malaria.

And while these milestones deserve to be celebrated, END7 student supporters know that we can’t rest while less than half of people needing NTD treatment are receiving it because of persistent funding gaps for NTD programs. The END7 campaign was launched as a way to give everyone a chance to contribute to the effort to end NTDs, with 100% of donations to our campaign used to support NTD treatment programs.

giving tuesday unselfieIf you are a student, teacher or university administrator who would like to join in our Giving Tuesday effort, sign up to fundraise on December 1 with an event or online fundraising page. Be sure to check out our resources: the Giving Tuesday action kit, a short webinar with fundraising tips and tricks from student leaders, and a Facebook album with inspiring images to share or set as your profile or cover photo. To spread the word, sign up for our Thunderclap or send us an END7 #unselfie (unselfish selfie!) with a sign explaining why you support END7 —we’ll post the best ones on Facebook!

We hope to have students around the world doing their part to fill the NTD funding gap on Giving Tuesday. If that goal isn’t motivation enough, we’ll be awarding fun prizes to the school with the highest fundraising total, the school that with the highest number of donors, and the school with the most creative promotion (time to snap those #unselfies!). Sign up to participate today!

Inside the NTD Bubble: My Experience at the ASTMH Annual Meeting

By Jessica Ellis

Earlier this month I had was given the incredible opportunity to travel to Philadelphia to attend the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) annual conference with the support of a scholarship from the END7 campaign. The conference consisted mostly of symposia and scientific sessions led by international panels of physicians, CEOs, WHO representatives, and other global health experts. During these sessions, while frantically figuring out how to simultaneously listen, take notes, live-tweet and keep track of acronyms to look up later, I was introduced to the vast scope of the global health community.


Jessica Ellis and Emily Conron, END7 student coordinator, at the ASTMH 64th Annual Meeting.

A significant focus of the symposia was the quantification and logistics behind the process of tracking and verifying the elimination of NTDs. So often in my END7 advocacy experience, we have joyfully announced elimination of a disease in a certain country, but learning about the human efforts and data collection behind disease elimination has changed the way I will treat these declarations. In the first session of Monday morning, a WHO representative gave a briefing about the TAS (Transmission Assessment Survey) that determines when to cease Mass Drug Administrations (MDAs), and I frantically copied down the phrase into my notes. By the second day of ASTMH, I found myself discussing the efficacy and possible alternatives to the TAS system for various west African nations. My total immersion into these passionate, professional discussions of global health policy and practice inspired me to absorb every detail that I could. It was immensely satisfying to realize how much more I could now contribute to my work with END7 on campus armed with my newfound knowledge.

Aside from international policies and paperwork, the more nuanced talks about MDA implementation in different countries, or even different villages, revealed to me another dimension of the NTD control and elimination effort. I learned about the independently financed elimination efforts in Malawi, and the effects of Ebola upon MDAs in Sierra Leone. It was fascinating to hear representatives of NTD programs in West African countries initiate a passionate discussion about the effects of neighboring countries’ disease rates upon those who are close to elimination. These conversations were both heavily researched and fueled by intense national pride from countries nearing NTD elimination.

astmh The Ebola epidemic was not merely a bullet point at ASTMH. In the lobby of the conference center, a replica Ebola Treatment Unit was set up, which allowed visitors to experience the working conditions of Ebola centers. We were shown how to put on the iconic hazmat suits and personal protective equipment, given several tasks typical of a physician’s two-hour shift, and then spent over thirty minutes being taught how to remove the suit. Removing, or “doffing,” the equipment was an amazingly arduous, stressful regimen even in our completely sanitary, air-conditioned space. The stories told by those who had worked the treatment units  on hand at the replica unit to share their perspective  described understaffed days, inconsistent and inadequate equipment, tropical temperatures, and the constant threat of infection if any part of this procedure was neglected. The men and women who served in these conditions displayed a level of ingenuity and stoicism normally associated with war heroes, and I left greatly humbled and inspired.

There was one session in particular that equipped me for future END7 student advocacy. Two women who bluntly identified themselves as non-scientists led a session entitled “How to Talk about Money When All You Care About is Saving Lives.” Jodie Curtis, an executive at a D.C. lobbying firm that represents ASTMH, spoke first about the numbers that make up the current global and national foreign aid budget. She revealed which nations and which US sectors spend the most on global health, and which health issues receive the most money. The end of her talk detailed “6 Things to Know” about government funding; the theme of which was how to communicate to government officials about a technical or nuanced topic.

This session provided not only quantitative data about government funding that I could share with students, but also recommendations for how to discuss a niche subject such as NTD elimination, which is very applicable to campus advocacy. The catchphrase of the hour was “tell you story, not your data.” This idea of going light on the epidemiology and statistics behind NTDs with a general audience, focusing instead on telling a broader story they can understand and relate to, can be used to reach a student audience on an emotional level. Case studies of the impact of an MDA, or personal anecdotes about a child who recovered from a worm disease and could now attend school, resonate with everybody in a way that statistics sometimes cannot.

Excited by my newly acquired knowledge of TAS and various R&D discoveries, I left the “NTD bubble” I had been immersed in for three days excited to communicate this information to others. In the coming month, I am giving a talk at an event hosted by UT student organization “Advocates for Awareness.” In addition to introductory NTD information, I hope to use my experience at ASTMH to discuss recent developments in global policy support of NTDs, instilling the sense of urgency and excitement around this cause that I took away from my time with the powerful global health community that I met in Philadelphia.

Jessica Ellis is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in biology. She is the president of END7 at UT and is serving on the END7 Student Advisory Board for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Introducing Ishmael Tamba Jalloh, October’s END7 Student of the Month

sl_murraytown_chc.jpgEach month, END7 honors one student who has made a significant contribution to our growing movement of student advocates dedicated to seeing the end of NTDs. We are very proud to introduce our October 2015 Student of the Month, Ishmael Tamba Jalloh, a pharmacy student at the University of Sierra Leone College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences. Ishmael joined the END7 Campus Leaders Council to raise awareness of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Sierra Leone by engaging students at his university in community engagement and outreach to local leaders.

As we reported while profiling Sierra Leone for our NTD Success Stories series last month, six NTDs are found in all 14 health districts in Sierra Leone, threatening nearly the entire population of the country. Strong leadership from Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and in-country partners has helped drive tremendous progress against NTDs like lymphatic filariasis (LF), also known as elephantiasis. More than 57 million NTD treatments had been delivered nationwide by the beginning of 2014, putting the country on track to begin the World Health Organization process of verifying the elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF) in eight of 14 health districts. Unfortunately, when the West African Ebola epidemic reached Sierra Leone in May 2014, all public health program activities were suspended — including mass drug administration (MDA) for NTDs.

One year later, with the Ebola epidemic receding, MDA restarted in Sierra Leone. Just this month, from October 9-13, the Ministry of Health’s NTD Program, through the District Health Management Team, ran an MDA campaign targeting 1.4 million people with drugs for LF and soil-transmitted helminths (STH). Ishmael volunteered to assist with the MDA, putting his pharmacy education at the service of his community. He shares:

“The mass drug administration campaign ran from October 9th to the 13th. Before the start of the campaign, there was a training for all the health workers and volunteers at the Murray Town Community Health Center [pictured above]. After the training, we were divided into pairs (a health worker and a volunteer) and sent to various communities in Ward 390, Constituency 111, in the western part of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

“At the start of the drug administration, my team targeted a secondary school, the Sierra Leone Grammar School, in the Murray Town community. At the school, we administered albendazole and ivermectin as a prophylactic treatment for elephantiasis to 850 pupils and 50 teachers. For the remaining days of the MDA campaign, I worked in a slum community called Cockle. In that community, we targeted 1,500 residents for drug distribution.

sl_dosing.jpg“During the campaign, we used a measuring rod as a guide for the dosage we should give [pictured left]. If the individual’s height was at the 4th mark, we administered 4 tablets of ivermectin and a tablet of albendazole; if the individual’s height was at the 3rd mark, we administered 3 tablets of ivermectin and a tablet of albendazole, and so on with the second and first marks. This made it easy to give everyone the proper dose to keep them safe from elephantiasis.

“During the campaign, I found out that people are only aware of one out of the seven neglected tropical diseases — elephantiasis, which is called ‘Big Foot’ in our local language. Now, I am thinking that more work needs to be done about all of the NTDs in Sierra Leone.

“Also, during the campaign, I met an 18-year-old girl named Isatu who for the past two weeks has been developing signs of elephantiasis. Her family are saying her swollen legs are caused by witchcraft or black magic, but I advised them go to the hospital and have Isatu be tested for elephantiasis. I hope she receives the treatment she needs, and I am glad to have met her during the campaign.

“All in all, our campaign targeted 1.4 million people in Freetown. I hope my contribution to the campaign made a difference.”

Now, Ishamel is working to establish the first END7 chapter in Africa at the University of Sierra Leone. We are so grateful for Ishmael’s commitment to the fight against NTDs in Sierra Leone and around the world, and we 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 to learn how you can get started!

Celebrating NTD Success Stories: Sierra Leone’s Inspiring Progress in the Face of Ebola

Community health officer Hawa Margai speaks about onchocerciasis to a group of women gathered at the Levuma community health center in the town of Levuma, Sierra Leone on Friday July 13, 2012.

Community health officer Hawa Margai speaks about onchocerciasis to a group of women at the Levuma community health center.

During the month of October, END7 student supporters are celebrating NTD Success Stories from four countries — Haiti, India, Sierra Leone and the Philippines — that have overcome incredible obstacles to make progress towards NTD control and elimination. This week’s success story comes from Sierra Leone, where inspiring efforts are being made to fight NTDs in the wake of the Ebola epidemic.

Six NTDs are found in all 14 health districts in Sierra Leone, threatening nearly the entire population of the country. Sierra Leone faces many health and development challenges, but the government has exerted strong leadership in the fight against NTDs. By 2004, the national NTD program had successfully mapped the prevalence of targeted NTDs nationwide, and in 2005 they launched a mass drug administration (MDA) campaign to treat every at-risk community with the participation of nearly 30,000 volunteer community drug distributors. Supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health had distributed more than 57 million NTD treatments nationwide by the beginning of 2014. As a result of these efforts, the country was on track to begin the World Health Organization process of verifying the elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF) in eight of 14 health districts in 2014. Unfortunately, when the West African Ebola epidemic reached Sierra Leone in May of that year, all public health program activities were suspended as the country raced to stop the spread of Ebola. As a result, the Sierra Leone NTD Program was unable to carry out MDA in 2014, interrupting progress towards LF elimination.

But today, the government of Sierra Leone and partner organizations are working hard make up for lost time. In May of 2015, on the heels of nationwide malaria and vaccination campaigns, MDA restarted in Sierra Leone. Just this month, from October ninth to 13th, the Ministry of Health’s NTD Program, through the District Health Management Team, ran an MDA campaign targeting 1.4 million people with drugs for LF and soil-transmitted helminths (STH).

The relaunch of MDA this year required careful preparation, including refresher training session for community drug distributors and program administrators. Extensive social mobilization campaigns, aimed at educating communities still reeling from the Ebola epidemic about the importance of participating in MDA, were conducted through community meetings and radio spots. As a result of this careful preparation, early indications are that Sierra Leone’s 2015 MDAs have been successful.

The consistent key to Sierra Leone’s inspiring success tackling NTDs before and after the Ebola epidemic has been the leadership and commitment of volunteer community drug distributors. Elected by their communities, these volunteers reach the most remote corners of the country, enabling Sierra Leone to consistently achieve treatment coverage above 75 percent in targeted communities.

Given Sierra Leone’s small geographic size, the strong political support of the government and the commitment of the volunteer community drug distributors who form the backbone of MDA programs, the country is in the unique position to become one of the first countries in Africa to control snail fever and intestinal worms and eliminate river blindness and elephantiasis. Sierra Leone’s NTD program has also successfully demonstrated that MDA can be achieved in highly populated urban settings. But additional support is needed. By integrating NTD treatment with schools and other health programs, millions of people at risk for NTDs can live free of these diseases of poverty and their devastating effects including malnutrition, disability, social stigmatization and a loss of productivity.

Sierra Leone’s progress against NTDs despite the challenges posed by the Ebola epidemic should inspire other countries to redouble their efforts to address these diseases. Now more than ever, support for robust public health efforts like Sierra Leone’s NTD Program is needed to build on this impressive progress. END7 supporters are eager to celebrate Sierra Leone’s progress and look forward to celebrating more milestones as the country moves closer to its ultimate goal of controlling and eliminating NTDs.