Category Archives: WASH

Connecting the Dots: Greater Integration between WASH and NTDs

 

Photo by Esther Havens

Photo by Esther Havens

Over the past month, we’ve heard many times from the neglected tropical disease (NTD) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) communities about the importance of cross-sector collaboration (see here and here). Momentum has especially been building, though, in the past two weeks.

Just last week, as the part of events recognizing the second anniversary of the London Declaration, we celebrated new commitments from WaterAid and Dubai Cares that will advance integrated deworming and WASH interventions.

This week, the Global Network and partners gathered with the former President of Ghana and Global Network’s NTD Special Envoy, H.E. John Kufuor – who also serves as Chair of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Partnership – to discuss the cost-effective and sustainable strategies our sectors and private industry can take.

Another important conversation also occurred this week: “Why water and toilets matter in foreign aid,” hosted by WaterAid at the National Press Club. Barbara Frost, chief executive of WaterAid UK; Henry Northover, head of policy at WaterAid UK; and Lisa Schechtman, director of policy and advocacy at WaterAid America spoke about how WASH can advance many U.S. interests. WaterAid also invited Dr. Neeraj Mistry, Global Network’s managing director, to weigh in about the health implications of poor WASH circumstances.

Lisa observed that there’s been increasing “recognition that development component isn’t just good for moral authority but that it helps bolster defense and diplomacy components.” The 2012 National Intelligence Estimate on Global Water Security emphasizes that water can be a tool of conflict or peace and makes the connection that poverty reduction – through WASH – can increase security.

Similarly, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and other collaborators published a Global Health Security Agenda in February to thwart risk of infectious diseases.

Barbara then stressed the impact that WASH has on “women’s health, girls’ lives, empowerment and what it means for their healthy development.” For instance, in many vulnerable communities, “girls drop out of school because they are carrying water or because there aren’t adequate toilets when they go through puberty.”

In the same way, NTDs disproportionately impact females. When END7 campaign ambassador Abhishek Bachchan visited a lymphatic filariasis clinic in Orissa State, India, he heard from women about how the stigma and misinformation associated with the disease prevented their daughters from getting married and participating equally in society. Women and girls with a certain form of schistosomiasis, one of the most common NTDs, are also three times more likely to contact HIV.

Henry, who noted that “dirty water is the vector for so many of the diseases that you see under the microscope,” also reflected on global challenges in the WASH community. Most importantly was that some serious challenges on how aid is targeted.

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, which is why the Global Network is urging the public to encourage key members of Congress to protect funding for this critical program.

Then Neeraj emphasized, “this is not an either or measure – we have to do both [WASH and NTDs] to have a significant and sustainable impact on many of these diseases.” While WASH and NTDs “may seem like disparate thematic issues in the development agenda, we are looking at similar thematic platforms” to make positive changes, in schools or during child health weeks.

Ultimately, we will not stop the transmission of NTDs without clean water, improved sanitation, and better hygiene practices, and even with good water, we need to distribute treatments to protect against disease. The Global Network looks forward to continuing its support as collaboration and dialogue between both sectors grows.

The Power of Partnerships: Increasing Investments in WASH for Poverty Reduction

 

President John Kufuor presents his keynote address

President John Kufuor presents his keynote address
Credit: Tetra Tech

This week, the former President of the Republic of Ghana and the Global Network’s Special Envoy for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), John A. Kufuor, joined partners from the U.S. government, NGO community and private sector to discuss ways to increase access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

Because NTDs many are transmitted through dirty water, poor hygiene and sanitation, infinite opportunities exist for partners from the WASH and NTD communities to work together to create healthier and more prosperous communities – a point highlighted by President Kufuor during his remarks.

“I am confident that we can do much more to reach the most impoverished people around the globe by increasing WASH and health investments and coordinating our individual efforts. Sustainable and effective development rests on the future of integrated programs that take advantage of existing synergies, partnerships and shared resources.”

Further emphasizing the night’s theme of partnerships, the event was hosted by a wide range of organizations  including the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases/Sabin Vaccine Institute, InterAction, Tetra Tech, the Millennium Water Alliance, WaterAid and WASH Advocates. Attendees, hosts and speakers were able to chat, network and share their experiences before the featured presentations.

Participants from the event chat with President Kufuor

Global Network’s Managing Director, Neeraj Mistry, opened the event by encouraging the WASH and NTD communities to find cross-cutting points of convergence between these two sectors.

“In times of resource scarcity, we need to make the most of what we have,” he said.

Sam Worthington, President and CEO of InterAction, moderated the discussion. He also emphasized the opportunity to initiate WASH and NTD partnerships right here in D.C., and highlighted the role of InterAction as a platform for bringing people together.

Next, President John Kufuor delivered his keynote address, in which he spoke first-hand about the impact of poor WASH, Guinea worm and other NTDs on the people of Ghana.

“The pain from Guinea worm—like many other high-burden NTDs—would prevent Ghanaians from attending school, tending livestock or working in their fields for weeks at a time and in some cases, permanently.  It often forced children to fall behind in their studies and adults to lose their jobs. “

However, Ghana was able to eliminate Guinea worm after promoting awareness of the disease, training WASH and health workers, and expanding access to clean water in rural areas, Kufuor explained. In addition, support from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) enabled Ghana to improve clean water and health in the country.

In closing, Kufuor emphasized the need for collaboration with an African proverb: “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. It is only together that we can create a healthy future free of poverty. “

guests watch President Kufuor's speech

David Baxter of Tetra Tech’s Institute of Public Private Partnerships, Apollos Nwafor of WaterAid West Africa, Jonathan Nash, the Deputy Acting Vice President of the MCC and Christian Holmes, Global Water Coordinator from USAID all presented unique perspectives regarding the power of partnerships in achieving health goals.

David Baxter highlighted Tetra Tech and the private sector perspective on forging public-private partnerships to increase access to WASH. As David explained, Tetra Tech develops innovative WASH solutions in partnership with NGOs and governments. He noted that institutional capacity building is essential to sustaining gains made from WASH and NTD efforts.

Apollos Nwafor followed with a powerful declaration that everyone everywhere should have access to WASH by 2030, and partnerships will help us get there. He also stressed the importance of public-private partnerships that are pro-poor and inclusive to those who may be otherwise excluded or marginalized.

John Nash and Chris Holmes closed the event, providing a U.S. government perspective. John noted that the MCC works with nongovernmental partners on each and every project in which they invest. Chris Holmes echoed the importance of partnerships and reinforced the need to embrace the private sector in order to accelerate WASH and NTD programs.

The presence of President Kufuor and so many dedicated WASH and NTD advocates at Wednesday night’s event was very encouraging.  Growing partnerships between the NTD and WASH sectors and the public and private sectors are contributing to healthier communities across the world, and the Global Network looks forward to advancing these efforts to ensure that universal access to WASH also equates to a world without NTDs.

To view photos from the event, click here.

New Manuals on NTDs for WASH Practitioners

 

WASHNTDs

Over 50 country-specific versions as well as a global version of “WASH and the Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Manual for WASH Implementers” are available to download at http://www.washntds.org.

By Courtney McGuire

Courtney McGuire works with Children Without Worms and the International Trachoma Initiative, and is one of the authors of “WASH and the NTDs: A Manual for WASH Practitioners.”

Saturday, March 22 is World Water Day—an important occasion not just for the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, but for the neglected tropical disease (NTD) sector as well. Without WASH, we won’t be able to defeat NTDs such as soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis, and Guinea worm. Now, efforts to better coordinate the work of both sectors have new support with resources such as the WASH/NTD toolkit now available on www.washntds.org.

The toolkit—which includes “WASH and the NTDs: A Manual for WASH Implementers,” an upcoming e-course, and the website www.washntds.org–is designed to give WASH practitioners essential knowledge about how their work impacts NTDs. With this knowledge, WASH organizations can better target their activities to communities where NTDs occur, as well as demonstrate the impact of WASH on disease outcomes to help mobilize greater investment in WASH.

There is a growing recognition within the NTD community that WASH must be a part of the planning and implementation process for NTD control efforts. With this toolkit, both the WASH and NTD sectors can explore new opportunities for cross-sectoral partnerships and coordination at the implementation level.

One example of successful WASH/NTD collaboration highlighted in the toolkit comes from Ethiopia, where ORBIS, an eye care organization, and WaterAid worked together to combat blinding trachoma. ORBIS recognized the need to work with WASH partners to implement the SAFE strategy to combat the blinding disease trachoma – which stands for Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial Cleanliness, and Environmental Improvement. In order to help implement the F and E components of the strategy, ORBIS reached out to WaterAid Ethiopia to implement WASH activities in Gama Gafa zone in 2007. A multi-year agreement to bring WASH services to targeted communities has resulted in WASH access increasing from around 4 percent to over 92 percent in target districts as well as reduced levels of infection with trachoma.

In addition to featuring helpful case studies of WASH/NTD collaboration such as this, the toolkit provides techniques and practical materials useful for coordinating on joint monitoring, advocacy, and implementation. Over 50 country-specific versions of the manual are available, allowing users to access maps and specific information about the NTDs that occur in their countries of practice.

The toolkit itself represents an extensive collaborative effort between the WASH and NTD sectors. In December 2012, a diverse group of academics, practitioners, advocates, researchers, and organizations from both sectors came together for a two-day WASH/NTD roundtable discussion at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The discussion led to the production of a framework that would guide the toolkit’s development, which was undertaken by the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) and Children Without Worms (CWW), and funded by the Sightsavers Innovation Fund with support from the  UK government. Numerous organizations from both the WASH and NTD sectors contributed content and feedback to the effort.

On this World Water Day, we invite you to visit www.washntds.org, and to contribute to the conversation by tweeting your stories of collaboration @WASH_NTDs. Together we can work towards a world where clean, safe water is abundant for drinking and hygiene, where sanitation services are available for everyone—a world where no one suffers from NTDs.

WASH/NTDs

The NTD and WASH Index Map is a simple way to visualize areas with low WASH coverage and high levels of NTDs, including soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, trachoma, lymphatic filariasis and Guinea worm. Lighter colors indicate higher WASH access and fewer NTDs. Darker colors indicate a country has lower WASH access and more NTDs. Visit www.washntds.org for more information about how this map was developed and to view the data underlying the map.

Partnering Together on World Water Day

 

WWD4At least 2.5 billion people around the world lack access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This means 2.5 billion people are susceptible to diseases like cholera, pneumonia, malaria, diarrheal disease and a group of parasitic and bacterial infections referred to as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) — including blinding trachoma, schistosomiasis (a deadly parasitic disease carried by snails) and intestinal worms. These diseases cause malnutrition, disability, delayed cognitive development and even death. They also increase the likelihood of contracting other diseases such as HIV/ and tuberculosis.

The adverse impact of dirty water and poor hygiene and sanitation reaches far beyond health. The diseases that stem from a lack of WASH keep children out of school and prevent parents from working, thereby decreasing human capital, worker productivity and gross domestic product. However,  by addressing these diseases together with WASH, we can work to alleviate poverty and promote development worldwide.

The consequences of dirty water and poor sanitation are massive, but by joining together on World Water Day, our collective voices can lend urgency to an issue affecting almost one third of the world’s population.

In order to achieve the biggest impact, we’re challenging policy makers and the global community to make connections between multiple global health issues and water and, to think more broadly when it comes to initiating WASH programs.

The U.S. Congress has begun to recognize the close connection between clean, safe water and the overall health of men, women and children across the developing world.  But going a step further to examine how development policies around water and sanitation might broaden to include targeted health components (such as treatment for NTDs) is an important next step. Doing so makes good programmatic and financial sense—a valuable commodity in this budgetary climate.

As members of the global health community, we want to end the needless suffering of the world’s most vulnerable populations due to preventable illness and disease. World Water Day provides all of us with an opportunity to work together to achieve a common goal:  A healthy and more prosperous world for everyone.

To view our World Water Day Infographic in full-size, click the image below:

World Water Day