Beginning tomorrow, global health partners around the world will be celebrating World Immunization Week. While the week’s events primarily focus on achieving equitable access to immunization, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is particularly excited about the opportunities World Immunization Week presents for integrating deworming and immunization campaigns.
In Honduras, for example, the Ministry of Health has used World Immunization Week as a platform to deworm hundreds of thousands of children throughout the country.
Read our Honduras case study here: HONDURAS: LEADING THE WAY IN THE AMERICAS THROUGH INTEGRATED EFFORTS TO TREAT NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES (NTDS)
Integrating deworming with immunization campaigns under the umbrella of World Immunization Week is an extremely cost-effective way to prevent many diseases at the same time. By providing deworming medicine alongside immunizations, Honduras is maximizing the impact of its health interventions.
Honduras has also integrated water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) practices, as well as vitamin A supplementation into World Immunization Week. Since poor WASH contributes to increased intestinal worm infections, and intestinal worms can worsen and intensify malnutrition, integrating these three health interventions is essential for maximizing the health of children.
Honduras’ unique and successfully-integrated approach to fighting intestinal worms should be celebrated and replicated. To learn more about the country’s efforts, read our case study here.
The IMA World Health. A first of its kind for Tanzania, the national co-implemented immunization and mass drug administration strengthened the countrys integrated efforts to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases.
On Saturday, October 18, IMA World Health participated in a special event in Dodoma, Tanzania, to launch the 2014 national co-implemented immunization and mass drug administration (MDA) campaign to protect 21 million children against measles, rubella and neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). One of the largest public health intervention efforts ever staged in Tanzania, the 2014 campaign will run from October 18-24.
The annual event was convened and attended by the Government of Tanzania, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and numerous other partners.
For the past four years, IMA has been MDA for NTDs in Tanzania through the USAID-funded ENVISION Project, led by RTI International. With over $5 million in annual support, IMA has distributed preventive treatment to more than 14 million people across 9 regions of Tanzania, as well as trained 5,000 health workers and over 10,000 community volunteers.
Jim Cox, Country Director for IMA Tanzania, commented in a speech at the October 18 event, “As IMA celebrates its 20th anniversary in Tanzania… we are proud to be part of this first-ever joint NTD and immunization campaign, which lays the groundwork for healthy communities throughout Tanzania.”
IMA works with the Tanzania Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) to support implementation of the integrated five-disease NTD control program targeting onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, trachoma, LF, and STH using MDA in the community and schools.
Photo from IMA World Health
While major gains have been made in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), the Latin American and Caribbean region’s most poor and marginalized populations still suffer from the pain, disability and social exclusion associated with NTDs — diseases which have been successfully controlled in higher income countries.
However, the Latin America and the Caribbean Neglected Tropical Disease Initiative (LAC NTD Initiative), a partnership between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Pan American health Organization (PAHO) and Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, is proving that the control and elimination of NTDs within the region is possible and within reach.
In a recently-published report, titled It Can be Done: An Integrated Approach for Controlling and Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases, the IDB draws upon four NTD demonstration projects to provide lessons learned in integrated NTD control projects. The projects, taking place in Brazil, Guyana, Haiti and Mexico, took an integrated approach to addressing NTDs by combining interventions from the water and sanitation and education sectors, and taking advantage of synergies within governments, NGOs and private sectors within the region. This integrated approach stands in contrast to the more traditional approach to addressing NTDs — one which historically involved concentrating on one disease at a time and offering medications and treatments to entire at-risk populations to stop the spread of disease.
The work undertaken by the LAC NTD Initiative is critical; the Latin America and Caribbean region has been plagued by underfunding for NTD control even though more than 100 million individuals in the region are infected by at one or more of these diseases. Yet NTDs can be treated at a very low cost in comparison to other public health interventions. For example, it is estimated that lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis and trachoma could be eliminated, and soil-transmitted helminth and schistosomiasis controlled in the Latin America and Caribbean region by 2020 for as little as US$0.51 per person in most countries.
As the world quickly approaches the deadline of the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals go into effect, we must focus on the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities who suffer from NTDs in an effort to ensure that no one is left behind.
It Can be Done: An Integrated Approach for Controlling and Eliminating Neglected Tropical Diseases seeks to inform policymakers and program managers’ efforts to design, manage, implement and evaluate integrated NTD programs. The report, which presents the first comparative analysis that uses a single methodology to investigate the feasibility of implementing integrated programs, will certainly move the world one step closer to ending the suffering caused by NTDs.
To read the full report, click here.
By Karen Palacio and Alex Gordon
This afternoon, hordes of journalists and TV newscasters huddled around one small toddler, creating a semi-circle two rows deep as they waited in anticipation. Moments later, the toddler opened her mouth and received deworming medicine a simple but life changing act that on any other day may go unnoticed.
But today was different. In honor of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), Members from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Ministry of Health of Honduras, and representatives from the Office of the President of Honduras, hosted a high-profile ceremony, highlighting the importance of vaccination, deworming and the integrated delivery of other health interventions.
As Dr. Mirta Roses Periago mentioned in her previous blog post, VWA provides a much-needed platform to celebrate, showcase and implement the public health interventions that save lives and keep children and families thriving.
In Honduras, the ceremony that launched the two week campaign began with a prayer led by Padre Pablo Hernandez and the country’s national anthem.
Next, Dr. Ida Berenice Molina, head of Honduras’ Extended Program for Immunization (EPI) program, delivered remarks on the 12th anniversary of Vaccination Week of the Americas and Honduras’ consistent and impressive coverage rate of over 90 perecent for vaccinations since 1991.
Following Dr. Molina, Dr. Jon Andrus, Deputy Director of PAHO, highlighted the importance of the integration of vaccination and other health interventions such as deworming. This year’s slogan, “Vaccination, Your Best Shot” was selected as the call to action in the context of this year’s upcoming World Cup in Brazil. It is estimated that more than 63 million people in 180 countries and territories in the Americas will be vaccinated over the next two weeks.
Dr. Andrus also highlighted the opportunity that Vaccination Week offers to deliver other critical interventions such as deworming, Vitamin A, health education and lactation consultation, among others.
Historically, Honduras has been one of Latin America’s leaders in health and integration. In addition to holding high vaccination rates, Honduras was also the first country in the Americas to launch a national plan of action against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in 2012. After the plan’s launch, Honduras quickly began a demonstration project that expanded deworming to preschool children as part of vaccination week in six municipalities.
Now, two years later, the deworming of preschool children has been institutionalized as part of national vaccination week activities. This compliments the national campaign for school age children which is implemented in coordination with World Food Programme, UNICEF, Operation Blessing and other stakeholders.
Continuing with the presentations, Dr. Ricardo Alvarez, a representative from President Juan Orlando Hernandez’s office gave remarks on the political commitment to saving lives through vaccine preventable diseases and essential medicines that prevent and control NTDs.
And lastly, Dr. Edna Yolani Batres from the ministry of health remarked that VWA offers some of the best investments in public health. She called on partners to continue to join the Ministry of Health of Honduras in assuring the quality of life of millions of Honduran children and families continue to be improved through the services provided during Vaccination Week.
The speeches and presentations were followed by a series of vaccinations and the provision of deworming medicine and vitamin A supplementation. Members from PAHO and the Ministry of Health ceremoniously aided in the delivery of the health interventions as crowds gathered to watch babies, toddles, and pregnant mothers receive vaccines, deworming medicine and vitamins.
We were extremely happy to see these cost-effective health interventions and the nurses and doctors delivering them, receiving the attention they deserve. Through an integrated approach to public health, Honduras is providing smart opportunities for its population to remain healthy and thriving.