Category Archives: WASH

Honduras: Leading the Way in the Americas through Integrated Efforts to Treat Neglected Tropical Diseases

 

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Honduras is one of Latin America’s leaders in health and integration; their nation-wide effort to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) draws upon the institutionalized infrastructure of the country’s national vaccination week activities, and works across multiple sectors to deworm as many children as possible throughout the country.

Honduras’ unique and successfully-integrated approach to fighting NTDs is highlighted in a recently published success story, Honduras: Leading the Way in the Americas through Integrated Efforts to Treat Neglected Tropical Diseases (click here to read in Spanish).The success story highlights one of the country’s pilot programs which dewormed children aged one – four as part of the country’s vaccination week activities and scaled up to reach all preschool children at-risk, as well as Honduras’ efforts to deworm all school-aged children across the country.

In Honduras, 870,816 preschool children and 2 million school-age children are at risk for soil transmitted helminth infections (also known as intestinal worms). Intestinal worm infections are wide-spread and have a 50 percent prevalence rate in nearly half the country’s municipalities. These infections can cause severe anemia and contribute to pregnancy complications in women and severe malnutrition in children. NTDs also pose a threat to the development for endemic countries like Honduras by trapping the most vulnerable populations in cycles of poverty.

To address the heavy NTD burden within the country, Honduras’ NTD program leverages two platforms: Vaccination Week in the Americas and the Escuelas Saludables program. During Vaccination Week in the Americas, the deworming of children aged one-four occurs alongside a variety of other health interventions like vitamin A supplementation and vaccinations. And concurrently, Honduras’ Ministry of Health works with the Ministry of Education and Social Development, the World Food Programme and others to deworm school children across the country. Just last year, the Global Network partnered with these groups, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Operation Blessing and the MAMA Project to deworm more than one million school children.

And beyond just deworming, Honduras is integrating water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) practices into its NTD prevention efforts. Because NTDs are easily spread by contaminated water sources and a lack of hygiene and sanitation practices, health workers and teachers promote hygiene education among children through the Escuelas Saludables program. Additionally, four safe water systems (hydrochlorinators) were installed in the municipalities of Marcovia and El Triunfo.

Honduras’ deworming program has been successful not only because of its integrated nature, but also because of its political and public support. For example, in 2010 Honduras formed a National NTD Committee, called the Mesa Tecnica, which includes NTD experts from the Ministry of Health, PAHO country office and various other partners including academia and nongovernmental organizations. The Mesa Tecnica has led efforts to map the prevalence of intestinal worms and develop the national NTD plan.

Honduras also has the support of Global Network NTD Special Envoys including Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, former PAHO Director, His Excellency, President Ricardo Lagos Escobar of Chile and His Excellency, President Alvaro Arzú Iriogoyen of Guatemala.

This combination of political and public support, and a well-designed and integrated NTD program have solidified Honduras’ position as a leader in NTD control and elimination efforts in the region. To learn more about Honduras’ efforts and to read the full success story, click here.

Friday Reading List

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.