Posts in Category: “Africa”

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

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

Meeting My “Daughter” in Niger

An inside look into HKI's trachoma control activities in Niger and Mali.
Ladies

Post by Emily Toubali, HKI’s Program Manager of Neglected Tropical Disease Control. Photos by Emily Toubali and Aryc Mosher.

Amina Nouhou lived for over 20 years with the searing pain of trichiasis, the final stage of the blinding disease of trachoma.  Each time she blinked, the eyelashes of her left eye scraped her cornea.  I cannot even begin to imagine the extreme discomfort she silently endured each day.  She woke up, cleaned her house, and cooked meals for her family, in constant suffering from this excruciating condition.

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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Becoming “Mr. Helen Keller”

Shawn Baker describes being interviewed for "Francophone Africa's CNN" about HKI’s West Africa-wide food fortification initiative.
africable_tv

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

“Bonjour Monsieur Helen Keller” (“Good morning Mister Helen Keller”) greeted me this week on my morning run on the beach in Dakar. Several text messages and e-mails from friends and colleagues saying they had seen me on television came in later that day. I then realized that Africable was at it again – spreading the word about HKI’s work across French-speaking Africa.

HKI’s relationship with Africable started in 2010. This television station based in Bamako, Mali is positioning itself as the CNN equivalent of Francophone Africa. As part of their celebration of 50 years of independence of many countries in Africa, they organized a regional media tour to celebrate African integration and HKI’s West Africa-wide food fortification initiative was highlighted. Through that partnership, millions of households were informed about the benefits of essential vitamins and minerals being added to cooking oil and wheat flour, through interviews and engaging commercials like this one.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

In London, A Gold for Trachoma

Trachoma mapping will aid global effort to rid the world of Neglected Tropical Diseases
mr. coker

This post was written by Chad MacArthur, Helen Keller International’s Director of Neglected Tropical Disease Control.

Days before the Olympics opened in London, I attended meetings at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as the city was beginning to bustle with excitement. My interest was in something completely different.

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) recently awarded our partner organization, Sightsavers, 10.6 million pounds ($16.4 million) to spearhead the completion of the global mapping of trachoma. There are currently more than 1,200 districts throughout the world that are suspected of being endemic for this blinding disease but we have no scientific information to verify this suspicion. more…

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Categories Africa, Asia-Pacific, Preventing Blindness

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

The Forgotten Children of the Sahel

Diffa children

This post was written by Jennifer Nielsen, HKI’s Senior Program Manager for Nutrition and Health. It is part of a series of blogs organized by The Huffington Post and the NGO alliance InterAction to call attention to the crisis in the Sahel, a region in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 18 million people face starvation and 1.1 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of dying from acute malnutrition.

Although my e-mail is flooded with messages detailing the political, economic and climactic forces precipitating a hunger crisis in the Sahel, the story is strikingly absent from the news reaching most Americans.  But because my work in the region has helped me see these vulnerable families as if they were my own, I am anguished by the situation.

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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

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

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