Posts in Category: “Africa”

Helen Keller International works in 13 countries in Africa preventing blindness, reducing malnutrition, and improving maternal and child health.

In the Field with HKI-Sierra Leone

This blog post was written by Anitra Sprauten. Anitra graduated from Bowdoin College in 2012 with a degree in Government & Legal Studies and French. Originally from New York, she is finishing up the academic year as an English teaching assistant at the University of Western Brittany in France. She hopes to return working with INGOs to improve standards of public education and public health in less economically developed countries. 

Overlooking Kroo Bay in Freetown

Overlooking the city from a steep hill in Tengbeh Town, the Helen Keller International (HKI) office in Freetown, Sierra Leone is frequented by visitors from many sectors. HKI does a wonderful job of coordinating its efforts with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other non-governmental organizations, so while the office itself is not very large, its reach spans the entire country.

For many, Sierra Leone is a country of extreme hardship. Maternal and child mortality rates are very high and the general population lives with very little income. However, residents of Freetown have a profound entrepreneurial spirit, and those who do not have steady employment work as petty traders. The city experienced a rapid boom of urbanization, and as the population continues to grow, Freetown continues to catch up. more…

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Categories Africa

Cameroon Completes its NTD Map

This article was written by Emily Toubali and Claire Coveney from HKI and was originally published in the March/April 2013 article of USAID’s Frontlines (scroll to second article).

After flipping tens of thousands of eyelids and spending countless hours peering into a microscope, a critical step toward the control and elimination of five neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in Cameroon has been reached.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Mothers of Pout: Making a Difference in the Fight against Malnutrition

Amy Diallo is from the small village of Pout, which lies about 30 miles east of Dakar, Senegal’s ocean-side capital.  The commercial farms in this region produce watermelon, coconut, grapefruit and mango – a colorful bounty that is out of reach for the average family in Senegal, where more than half the population lives in poverty.  Instead, families commit scarce resources to staples like rice that fill empty bellies but lack essential micronutrients that protect the immune system and help children grow. more…

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

A nocturnal Lymphatic Filariasis study

This blog was prepared by HKI Field Intern and Guest Blogger, Justin Graves. Justin spent six months working with HKI’s Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) team in Guinea and is currently an MPH Candidate at Columbia University.

When searching for a practicum site, I was keen to pursue fieldwork as I lacked experience in this area of public health. The projects at HKI Guinea presented a chance to gain skills working in the field by applying concepts and theories.

After 4 months of paperwork during the peak of Guinea’s rainy season, the first fieldwork activity presented itself and with it an opportunity to work with the infectious disease team on lymphatic filariasis (LF) research. To put the disease in perspective,  the World Health Organization (WHO) considers LF to be a leading cause of long-term and permanent disability, and tackling the disease is critical to promote health in Asia and Africa. The LF situation in Guinea presents a major burden across the country. Recent mapping studies have established that approximately 4.5 million people are at risk for this debilitating disease. That is almost half of Guinea’s total population, which is estimated somewhere between 10 and 11 million people.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

NTDs and WASH Programs

How NTD programs can work with WASH programs for common goal of improved public health

This post was written by Chad MacArthur, Helen Keller International’s Director of Neglected Tropical Disease Control and originally appeared as the first of many NTD Spotlights on the brand new ENVISION website.

There is no question that mass drug administration (MDA) has had an enormous impact on disease burden but it needs to be recognized that these diseases are public health problems and our response to them needs to be through public health interventions that are beyond just preventive chemotherapy (PC).  These diseases must be dealt with within a broader socio-economic development context.  One of the key elements that will sustain the gains made by MDA for trachoma, soil transmitted helminths and schistosomiasis is the increased access to safe water, improved sanitation and the promotion of hygiene; commonly referred to as WASH.  Integrating WASH with PC and promoting the behaviors that accompany WASH allows for a comprehensive control strategy such as trachoma has promoted for a number of years through the SAFE strategy. more…

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Categories Africa

Cape Verde: Leading the Way to Good Nutrition in West Africa

What’s the protocol for visiting a former head of state? In Cape Verde, our delegation walked up to his door, knocked, and President Monteiro himself greeted us. This typifies the graciousness and modesty that he has shown in all of our interactions.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Stalking “Big Fut” in Sierra Leone

This blog originally appeared on the Huffington Post as part of GivingTuesday initiative. 

After flying from New York City to Dakar to Banjul to Freetown, riding a bus to a dock and a boat across a bay to a 4X4 truck that travels up and down roads that transition from broken pavement to muddy earth, I stand at the front of a classroom – one that is empty of children.  Today, 30 adults sit in row after row of benches, some bending forward with heads propped on elbows as if they have been waiting a long time.  And they have.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Eyes on Nutrition

girls eating carrots

Today is World Sight Day which is celebrated every year on the second Thursday in October to raise awareness about avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

I’ve worn glasses since I was a young student, so I’m pretty familiar with visual impairment. In fact, I couldn’t really function at all without my glasses (or contacts) -– I couldn’t drive, work on the computer, cook, manage my way through my apartment, etc.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition

Saving Sight on World Sight Day

Yayé Tounakar receiving eyelid surgery

By Douglas Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa.

I have visited several of Helen Keller International (HKI) programs to control Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), and blogged about them here. Among the main NTDs that HKI works to control is trachoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the world.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

10 Years On: Food Fortification in West Africa

By Shawn Baker, HKI’s Vice President and Regional Director for Africa.

Two weeks ago, I arrived in Abidjan from Dakar in early evening. Passport control, retrieving luggage and getting out of the airport took only minutes. Hassle-free. In the past there would have been aggravations at each stage. This set the tone for most of my visit – after 10 years of political crisis and a contested election that resulted in weeks of warfare – Abidjan is back!  more…

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition