During the month of October, END7 student supporters are celebrating NTD Success Stories from Haiti, India, Sierra Leone and the Philippines. Each country we are spotlighting has overcome their own challenges, ranging from earthquakes to the Ebola epidemic, to make sure communities receive NTD treatment and progress towards disease control and elimination. The examples of these four diverse countries help communicate not just the scope of the suffering caused by NTDs, but the hope we have of ending these diseases for good. Last week, we celebrated Haiti’s inspiring progress towards the elimination of lymphatic filariasis, and this week we’re looking across the globe to India, a historic leader against that and many other NTDs.
India’s diverse population has experienced rapid economic growth over the past two decades, but the country still faces significant health challenges due to its size and high burden of disease. Almost half of the 1.2 billion people at risk of lymphatic filariasis (LF) infection globally live in India. Additionally, NTDs such as soil-transmitted helminths (STH) negatively impact hundreds of millions of children in the country, causing delays in cognitive and physical development. These NTDs take a heavy toll on economic productivity and chronic infections perpetuate the cycle of poverty. However, the Indian government has one of the largest and most successful NTD programs in the world, and treatment scale-up is paving the way towards the elimination of LF and the control of STH infections on the subcontinent.
The Indian government first launched a pilot program to tackle LF in 1949. Over the next four decades, the government supported important research and demonstration studies that became the technical backbone of the World Health Organization’s Global Programme to Eliminate LF, launched in 2000. India’s experience with LF provided the evidence for the operational and technical feasibility of mass drug administration (MDA) to eliminate LF — a strategy that has since been adopted in countries around the world.
Today, India leads the world’s largest MDA program, reaching more than 400 million people with an annual dose of preventative medicine for LF. To date, India is one of only two countries who have achieved MDA coverage at a national level, and the population at risk of LF in the country has been reduced from 600 million to 460 million as a result. The country has also successfully scaled up efforts to control STH infections at the state level, particularly through school-based deworming programs, and recently launched a National Deworming Day to coordinate multiple platforms for deworming into one cohesive push to tackle STH in children under 19. This initiative will encourage coordinated efforts, budgeting, and monitoring to improve the efficacy and reach of deworming programs.
Several districts in India are in the process of undergoing Transmission Assessment Surveys, evaluations designed to register whether LF transmission has been interrupted and annual MDA can cease. Moving forward, bi-annual MDAs will continue in districts with a high burden of LF. Continued efforts aimed at interrupting transmission of diseases, disease surveillance, early diagnosis and response, as well as continued community mobilization and education to change risk behaviors will be critical to reducing the LF burden in India. Managing the disease among existing patients, particularly those disabled by LF with elephantiasis or hydrocele, is also a high priority.
India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare worked with the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases in November 2014 to produce a mass media campaign, Hathipaon Mukt Bharat (Filaria Free India) to raise awareness of LF and encourage people to participate in MDAs. The video created for the campaign, entitled Giant Footprints!, won silver at the Cannes Festival of Creativity in 2015. Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan is also supporting India’s effort against NTDs as the END7 campaign’s first official ambassador in India.
These ongoing social mobilization efforts will be critical to achieving national, regional and global NTD control and elimination goals by 2020. If India’s current NTD efforts can be maintained and expanded, those at risk for NTDs can live free of these diseases of poverty and their devastating effects. And as the leader of one of the oldest and largest programs to tackle NTDs, India can be a leader in assisting other endemic countries hoping to replicate their success around the world.
There’s ample reason to hope that history will repeat itself in India as the country celebrates the elimination of polio and looks towards new goals, like the elimination of LF. The country’s example shows that directing the expertise of different agencies and organizations towards a common goal can be successful even in a country with a large and diverse population. END7 supporters are eagerly following the good news from India — the second success story we’re spreading in a month that’s already offered many reasons to celebrate — and hoping to see it replicated worldwide.
Over the span of two months, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health, together with World Vision Australia, treated more than 700,000 school children for intestinal worms. Generous donations from END7 supporters helped support this massive effort to reach every primary school in the nine target provinces across the country.
Vietnam’s mass drug administration (MDA) was critical to improving the country’s health. Intestinal worms pose a significant threat to children in Vietnam; more than 8 million children are at risk. If infected, these children are more likely to suffer from malnutrition and anemia. Intestinal worm infections also lead to school absenteeism and decreased cognitive function. In order to reach their full potential, all at-risk children must be treated regularly.
To help address Vietnam’s burden of intestinal worms, END7 donations supported the delivery of abendazole tablets, and the training of teachers and healthcare workers. Now, END7 funds will be supporting the country’s efforts to monitor and evaluate the success of the MDA campaign.
Thanks to our END7 supporters for playing a meaningful role in the fight against neglected tropical diseases!
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
Over the past few months, we’ve been working together with our partners in Honduras to promote and accelerate their leadership in preventing and treating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
In Honduras, where over two million preschool and school-age children are at-risk for infection with intestinal worms, a working group of three government ministries is mounting an impressive effort to put an end to these parasitic infections.
That includes reaching mothers like Cleotilde Acosta and her four children who were so sick with intestinal worms that they could barely eat or sleep.
In 2012, Honduras was the first country in Latin America and the Caribbean to launch a national integrated plan for NTD control and elimination. Since then, treatment for intestinal worms has increased by 55 percent, and families like Cleotilde’s have received the care they need.
Our partners in Honduras want to expand this successful initiative to help many more families and have asked END7 to help fill a funding gap for their school-based deworming program, Escuelas Saludables. Later this summer, the Honduras Ministry of Health and its partners are hoping to reach 1.4 million kids – ages 5 to 14 – in more than 20,000 schools.
The pills to treat against intestinal worms are already available, thanks to the terrific support and partnership of the World Food Programme and Operation Blessing. But, it will take further efforts to ensure these pills reach those in need. In particular, teachers, other community members and school children who will receive health education materials and necessary training.
The next campaign will take place over just five days in August. More than 1 million kids in five days! It’s a big opportunity for Honduras to shine.
Read more about the last Honduras deworming campaign on PAHO/WHO’s website.