Author Archives: Administrator

Connecting Nutrition and Neglected Tropical Diseases

HKI experts make the case to include nutritional interventions in programs that treat NTDs.
Cameroon Drug Distribution

HKI’s Shawn Baker, Yaobi Zhang, and Chad MacArthur recently contributed to an article on the role of nutrition in controlling Neglected Tropical Diseases published in the journal, BMC Medicine. Below is a blog about the article, which originally appeared on BioMed Central Blog, that argues this research could have major implications for the way NTD programs are delivered in the future.

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of poverty-associated chronic infectious diseases, which are endemic in poor and rural populations in the developing countries of Africa, America and Asia. NTDs affect over 1.4 billion people worldwide and cause severe morbidity and mortality; their impact in sub-Saharan Africa is comparable to malaria or tuberculosis. The diseases, which include river blindness, leprosy and intestinal worms, are transmitted by insect bites or worms in the soil, and are easily spread in areas with poor sanitation.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Happy Birthday Helen!

Helen Keller, age 79, 1959

Today is the birthday of Helen Keller, one of the greatest American heroes. I am always amazed by how much she accomplished during her life. She never let her blindness or deafness get in the way of her goals. Chief among those was being a voice for those who were less fortunate than she was, but her vision was not confined to those who were blind or deaf. She wanted to help all who were vulnerable, a legacy that Helen Keller International continues today in her name.

I’ve often wondered how Helen experienced New York City and I was given that opportunity at the immersive interactive show called Dialog in the Dark.  All participants are given a white cane and walk in total darkness through several New York settings. Our group’s guide was himself blind. We wandered through “Central Park” and heard more clearly the songs of birds and the ripple of water.  In a grocery store, our senses of smell and touch were heightened as we tried to find fruits and vegetables. It was fun and stimulating.

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Categories Helen Keller, United States

Hector Gets New Glasses

Hector3

This post originally appeared on TOMS’ Eyewear blog.  Helen Keller International is partnering with TOMS to provide prescription eyeglasses to students in need through our ChildSight® program.

Hector, 12, is an eager sixth-grader here in Los Angeles, with a knack for math. When he grows up, he hopes to be a veterinarian or play soccer, his favorite sport, professionally.

Not too long ago, Hector was having trouble seeing the blackboard, and was struggling in classes although he had the skills to succeed. Hector knew he needed glasses, but had broken his last pair and wasn’t able to replace them because of his family’s financial constraints. When he could, Hector would borrow his older sister’s glasses, and although that didn’t correct his vision, he thought a little bit of help was better than nothing.

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Categories Preventing Blindness, United States

A Nutrition Cliff-Hanger in Geneva!

WHA

This is the second blog post from Shawn Baker, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, about his attendance at the 65th World Health Assembly last week to advocate for maternal, infant and young child nutrition. 

We were all holding our breath waiting to find out the outcome of the Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) comprehensive implementation plan. So much of what HKI promotes is central to this plan, so it was critical that the resolution be passed. It was a real cliff-hanger – but in the final hours of Friday’s debates at the 65th World Health Assembly the plan was adopted unanimously – a real victory for nutrition and the timing couldn’t be better.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Advocating for Nutrition on the Shores of Lake Geneva

© WHO/Pierre Albouy

This blog post was written by Shawn Baker, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, about his attendance at the 65th World Health Assembly last week to advocate for maternal, infant and young child nutrition. 

I arrived in the Geneva airport on a bright Sunday morning and an hour later greeted António Monteiro, former President of Cape Verde, and the West Africa Nutrition Advocate. He has joined HKI colleagues and me, and other partners working to improve nutrition, to attend the 65th World Health Assembly that will include a side event on acute malnutrition.

The World Health Assembly takes place in the majestic Palais des Nations, situated in a stunning park overlooking Lake Geneva. The grandeur of the Palais des Nations seems far removed from the front-lines of fighting malnutrition in Africa.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Rebel with a Cause

An entrepreneur’s vision to end Vitamin A Deficiency
Aframes_Poster_2.1

When Wes Stoody entered Eastern Michigan University he thought he wanted to be a professor. Five years later he is educating people, but not in the way he originally planned. Along with business partner Jay Parkin and his sister, Maggie Stoody, Wes created Aframes, a socially conscious line of unisex eyewear. The company sells fashionable sunglasses with the dual goal of raising awareness about vitamin A deficiency (VAD) and helping to fund programs that prevent it.

Aframes is partnering with Helen Keller International and will donate 5% of all revenue to help HKI’s vitamin A supplementation programs around the world.

Next week, Aframes is going one step further: the company will donate 50% of its revenue to HKI in celebration of the start of summer. We encourage you to visit their website between May 28th and June 2nd to take advantage of this generous offer!

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Categories Preventing Blindness, United States

Nutrition’s Time Has at Long Last Come

Kathy Spahn discusses her participation in the launch of IFPRI’s Global Food Policy Report, and the window of opportunity that has opened for nutrition
Global Food Policy Report

This blog is by Kathy Spahn, HKI’s President & CEO. Ms. Spahn was asked to speak about the rising profile of nutrition in the development agenda at the launch of IFPRI’s new flagship publication, the Global Food Policy Report.

On April 23rd I participated on a panel organized by IFPRI, the International Food Policy Research Institute, to launch their first Global Food Policy Report, a comprehensive report about major food policy developments and challenges of the past few years, and the outlook for 2012.

It’s an exciting time to be working in nutrition; at long last its star is on the rise. When I first joined Helen Keller International there weren’t many organizations like us or IFPRI that concentrated specifically on nutrition and its vital role in the health and development of nations. Over the past few years, beginning with the 2008 Lancet series, which highlighted the central links between nutrition and food security, to the more recent launch of the 1,000 Days campaign and the promotion of the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) framework, it seems everyone is now thinking about nutrition. It’s even on the agenda of the World Economic Forum and the G8!

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Categories Reducing Malnutrition

A Human Yardstick

SANFOSalimata

This post was written by Victoria Quinn, HKI’s Senior Vice President of Programs. It is  part of a series of blogs on The Huffington Post by leading NGOs to call attention to a range of issues that should be raised at the G8 summit at Camp David in rural Maryland from May 18-19.

There is a time in a child’s life that has a profound impact on her ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty. It’s the 1,000 day window beginning with a mother’s pregnancy through to her child’s 2nd birthday. During this critical 1,000 days, ensuring that mothers and children have proper nutrition can have a profound impact not only on the individual but also on the long-term health, stability, and development of entire communities and nations.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

A Mother’s Day Story

How one woman's bravery inspired HKI's Peggy O’Neill.
Margaret with Peggy

This blog is written by Peggy O’Neill, HKI’s Vice President of Development, Individual Giving.

“I’d tremble too, if a stranger was about to put a sharp scalpel to my eyelid,” was all I could think as I watched Somoe Abdalah prepare for trichiasis surgery. I walked up to her and gently took her hand in mine. Tears immediately began to roll down her cheeks, and soon after, I was crying too.

I didn’t expect to get emotional as I got in a jeep that morning to observe HKI’s Trachoma program in a remote Tanzanian village, but there was something about seeing this woman, my own age, lying on an exam table awaiting surgery that particularly moved me. She was trying so hard to be brave, but her trembling showed her fear.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Promoting Nutrition to Parliamentarians

HKI's Vice President and Regional Director for Africa makes that case for investing in nutrition
Vitamin A Supplementation

This blog post was written by Shawn Baker, Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, about his recent participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) 126th Assembly in Kampala, Uganda.

First Ladies, Members of Parliament, a former Head of State – it is not often that you get to speak about nutrition to such an audience. I had the privilege of joining the West African Nutrition Advocate, the former President of Cape Verde, in Kampala, Uganda for the 126th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in early April.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition