Category Archives: parasites

END7 Funds NTD Projects Around the World

This spring, we awarded nearly $400,000 in new grants for neglected tropical disease (NTD) control and elimination activities in 2016.

This funding is made possible by generous donations to Sabin Foundation Europe, a partner of the U.S.-based Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Global Network also helped make these grants possible.

The grants will make a significant impact in supporting integrated NTD programs in six countries. All projects are coordinated with Ministries of Health and/or the World Health Organization in each country. Many of the projects include mass drug administration (MDA) for the most common NTDs and training of health care workers. These projects are expected to benefit nearly six million individuals at risk from NTDs and train tens of thousands of health workers and volunteers to lead the NTD control and elimination effort into the future.

Awarded to existing efforts that faced a funding gap, these projects will have a lasting impact on improving and expanding existing programs to reach ambitious NTD control and elimination goals in Africa, Asia and Latin America – the regions with the largest NTD burden:

Nigeria $50,000 to support integrated MDA for seven NTDs, administered by Sightsavers with the support of the Federal and Kebbi State Ministries of Health. Nearly 5.9 million people will receive donated medicine in Kebbi state, in northwest Nigeria, where all seven NTDs are widespread. Sightsavers will continue their successful MDA in the region and expand to new areas.

Somalia $66,200 to support the first integrated MDA in five regions of southwestern Somalia by the new NTD Program of the Ministry of Health and Human Services. The MDA will target schistosomiasis (snail fever), ascariasis (roundworm), hookworm and trichuriasis (whipworm) among school-age children and adults in areas of high prevalence. The NTD Programme was established in 2015; success this year will help scale up the delivery of donated medicine to the rest of the country.

Cote d’Ivoire $28,789 to support water, sanitation and hygiene education to prevent NTDs in Cote d’Ivoire, administered by Helen Keller International. More than 7,000 health workers, school teachers and community health volunteers will be trained to reach more than 2.5 million people.

Guyana $111,146 to support MDA to eliminate lymphatic filariasis in the most populous region of the country, administered by the Pan American Health Organization and the Ministry of Public Health. Guyana is on track to eliminate lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis) by 2020. These funds were raised for END7 by the Sabin City Group in London.

India $60,546 to assist a local NGO, Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), to expand their successful efforts to treat and prevent lymphatic filariasis to West Bengal. This grant will enable CASA to train community members to manage the swelling and disability that often results from later stages of lymphatic filariasis. Each infected patient will receive a hygiene kit with soap, a towel and antifungal ointment and be shown how to care for themselves to reduce swelling. CASA will also promote the government’s annual MDA targeting 500,000 people for lymphatic filariasis treatment in West Bengal.

Myanmar $75,645 to assist the Department of Public Health to determine where MDA for lymphatic filariasis has succeeded and can be concluded. Nine districts with a population of nearly 7 million have already conducted more than five rounds of MDA for lymphatic filariasis. Officials will determine whether transmission has been interrupted.

The Global Network team reviewed 37 proposals from a range of partners tackling NTDs around the world and selected projects with the potential to have the most lasting impact, leverage further investment and bolster country-led efforts to eliminate NTDs.

To date the Global Network has awarded more than US$1 million in grants to 19 partners. From individual donors contributing $5 a month to student groups raising $10,000 over the course of a school year, the END7 campaign has mobilized a diverse and growing community of supporters from countries around the world dedicated to supporting the fight against NTDs. Together, these contributions are moving the NTD elimination effort forward by helping communities set up treatment programs they can run themselves. END7 supporters fill funding gaps in successful NTD treatment programs, highlighting the tremendous impact of this inexpensive treatment and the power of partnership in the fight against NTDs.

Donate to END7

Using visual media to raise awareness of NTDs

Today we’ve posted an essay by Keng Hou Mak, a Ph.D. candidate in the Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Program at Baylor College of Medicine and one of five winners of a student competition on raising awareness of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) — a group of parasitic, viral and bacterial infections that afflict mainly those living in extreme poverty.

The writing contest and related outreach competition are associated with a Sept. 29-30 Baker Institute conference on NTDs in the U.S. and Mexico. One winning essay will be featured here each week leading up the conference.

The public is invited to attend the Baker Institute NTD conference, but an RSVP is required. Please click here for more information and to register for the event.

I was telling a friend about the many Africans affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and how these diseases perpetuate poverty. She was convinced of their global importance. But apparently, my speech did not stir her until I told her the scabies she just recovered from was one of the NTDs. This is a clear example showing that the collective term “NTDs” might be confusing. The term might seem even more removed from Americans who do not live in the poorest neighborhoods and have never contracted any of the NTDs; such people are mostly unaware of the pain and suffering caused by NTDs, despite their far-reaching socioeconomic significance for the affected population and America as a whole.

One way to relate and link individual NTDs to the public is through visual means. A quick Google search for “neglected tropical diseases” returns few impressive images — mostly of African children in a poor village setting. Therefore, for current and future campaigns, we need to generate diverse visual materials that the public can relate to.

Another property of NTDs, unlike many household-name diseases, is that many of them are readily preventable at a negligible cost, with tremendous gains in the quality of life and productivity of the affected. A fundraising campaign that makes use of this fact will get the message through to the public. I am proposing the following campaign that combines these two concepts through the use of social media:

Campaign: Five NTs (Neglected Truths) About NTDs

The campaign starts with a 2D graphic design contest with themes on important messages about NTDs, and then generates an online presence with a slideshow article on five neglected facts about NTDs, using materials from the design contest. The online article will be set up to allow small, fixed donations through a one-touch method.

  1. 2D Graphic Design Contest

Why 2D visual: It is versatile, powerful and instant. 2D visuals can be adapted to different media and for various uses, can be more powerful than texts, and can stir up an instant response from viewers, which cannot be achieved by videos.

Goals: Increase awareness among contestants and encourage them to think more deeply about NTDs through the creation process. Generate visual materials for the rest of the campaign and for future use.

Who participates: Open to the public. It will in particular be advertised to students through NTD groups in schools.

Format: 2D visuals in all forms, including infographics, memes, photos, graphics, and comics.

Topics: Five core messages determined by the campaign organizers — for example, the parasite-poverty loop, NTDs are on American soil, the broad (and often invisible) impacts of NTDs, and the seven most common NTDs.

How to determine the winner: Contest entries are displayed under each of the “neglected facts” in the online slideshow article. The entry that gathers the most “likes” from the public within a period of time (e.g., four weeks) is the winner.

Possible alternate uses of the materials: A Wikipedia page or an image collection for NTD groups at schools and universities

  1. Online Slideshow Article on “Five NTs (Neglected Truths) About NTDs”

Why five: This format of article — e.g., “Top 10 Restaurants in Houston” or “Five Things You Didn’t Know About Cats” —is the most likely to be shared on social media, which will increase the chance of getting the messages to more people.

Goals: Generate an online presence by sharing the article for fundraising and spreading the message. Create a platform to determine the winner of the contest.

Contents of the article: The article will be organized into five slides on the core messages used for the contest. The text of the article will include relevant information about each message, provided by the organizing committee from the relevant literature and sources. The images for the slideshow will come from the contestants in the 2D design contest. A “Donate” link, described below, will also be included. NTD-focused groups in schools and contestants are expected to be the first to share the article on social media.

  1. One-Touch Donation

Just 50 cents can protect a person from the seven most common NTDs for a year. The campaign can use this fact to get more people involved and, importantly, to demonstrate how easy it is to make a difference — and how important, given the socioeconomic significance of NTDs. To do this, I propose a fundraising component that requests a fixed amount small enough that people would seldom hesitate to donate (e.g., $5). To make the process even easier, the donation can be collected in the form of the charge from downloading an app. People who wish to donate can download an app, and since their accounts for the Apple app store or Google Play are linked to their credit card information, the donation can be done in one step. The app could simply be a chart showing daily updates on the amount raised by the campaign; it can also show how many people can be saved from NTDs since the start of the campaign. This gives the donor a sense of being part of a bigger community that fights against NTDs.

This part of the campaign complements the previous part on generating an online presence, since we need to reach as many people as possible for the small amount each person donates.

Keng Hou Mak, originally from Hong Kong, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences Program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. His interest in neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) started with his thesis project on the evolutionary conservation of a stress signaling mechanism, which he studied in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, a small, non-parasitic nematode. Mak learned that this worm, which has been studied extensively, could be used to provide the knowledge and tools needed to understand the parasitic nematodes that cause NTDs. He was struck by the impact of basic science on global socioeconomic issues, such as those caused by NTDs, and realized that education and community outreach was also critical to making a difference.

This essay originally appeared on the Baker Institute Blog.

Using social media to raise awareness of NTDs

Today we’ve posted an essay by Juan Ulises Rojo, a graduate student at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and one of five winners of a student competition on raising awareness of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) — a group of parasitic, viral and bacterial infections that afflict mainly those living in extreme poverty.

The writing contest and related outreach competition are associated with a Sept. 29-30 Baker Institute conference on NTDs in the U.S. and Mexico. One winning essay will be featured here each week leading up the conference.

The public is invited to attend the Baker Institute NTD conference, but an RSVP is required. Please click here for more information and to register for the event.

With the spread of globalization and the Internet, an awareness campaign has the potential to reach millions of people and educate them about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). I propose the creation of a new campaign, called Tropical Diseases Campaign, to reach people through social media and events.

The Tropical Diseases Campaign (TDC) will have a website with three main components: a YouTube channel, a blog and a “take action” portal with the goal of reaching as many people as possible. First, an active YouTube channel linked to the TDC website will broadcast short, five to 10 minute clips about different NTDs. Individual videos about each NTD will present and explain information in general language, and new videos will be uploaded on a regular basis. These videos will present various aspects of tropical diseases, including causative agents, epidemiology, clinical cases, current treatments and preventive strategies. Viewers will be encouraged to share the video and visit the TDC website. The purpose of the short clips is to make the information accessible — people can watch the videos at any time, and the videos leave them with a message. Also, YouTube channels are popular because of the profit earned by the number of views and advertisements. The money earned from the YouTube channel can be income for the self-supporting TDC.

The blog component of TDC will be designed to invite people to share ideas, anecdotes, videos and photos about their experiences with NTDs. The purpose of the blog is to give a voice to those who have experienced NTDs firsthand. For example, physicians, scientists and people who live in endemic areas can all share their experiences.

The final main component of the Tropical Diseases Campaign website is the “take action” portal. This part of the website will provide links and information about volunteer opportunities to help people living in endemic areas, job positions related to treating NTDs and research opportunities. This section will also provide information about universities that have ongoing NTD-related research for students interested in graduate school. The “take action” portal will also include a donation option that will support people living in endemic areas.

Although there are a number of websites that provide sources and information about NTDs, few people are aware of these websites, and thus the message is not able to reach the public. The main challenge for the success of TDC is to reach a large audience and encourage them to take action.

There are three ways people can make a difference through the Tropical Diseases Campaign: 1) create partnerships with universities, 2) sell merchandise, and 3) organize an NTDs awareness walk. TDC can create partnerships with universities and promote student clubs that focus on NTDs awareness. Students can actively participate in the website by making videos, writing for the blog or making donations. Another way to promote awareness of NTDs is merchandise. In fact, merchandise has played a strong role in promoting awareness of diabetes, breast cancer and HIV/AIDS. T-shirts, bracelets, ribbons and bumper stickers are commonly used to invite people to participate in battling these diseases. The TDC could also sell merchandise to support awareness of NTDs. Finally, organizing walks or runs can also help engage and educate people about a cause. In fact, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk organized by the American Cancer Society is a powerful event that engages the community to increase awareness and raise money. The same approach can be implemented by the TDC. A shoeless mile-long walk for NTD awareness could bring the community together as well as secure sponsors, in order to provide donations that will be used to treat, prevent and research NTDs. More importantly, this event will bring media attention to reach more people who can participate in the campaign.

While this proposal may appear broad, we need to keep in mind that no single approach will be effective in spreading awareness of NTDs. It is important to use as many resources as possible to reach people and educate them about neglected tropical diseases. Hopefully, in the near future, with the help of the TDC, these diseases will no longer be neglected.

Juan Ulises Rojo is a second-year graduate student researching schistosomiasis at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock. Raised in Ciudad Juárez, México, Rojo moved to the United States after high school and attended the University of Texas at El Paso. He was later accepted into the National Institute of Minority Health and Heath Disparities International Research Training program, and learned more about parasitic diseases in rural communities at the University of Costa Rica. He graduated with a B.S. in clinical laboratory science from UT El Paso in 2012 and worked as a medical technologist for one year before deciding to enter graduate school. Rojo plans to continue a career focused on the study and eradication of NTDs.

This essay originally appeared on the Baker Institute Blog.