Posts in Category: “Africa”

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

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

Integrated NTD control in Mali

Lessons learned in Mali can serve as example for other countries implementing integrated NTD programs.
Mali Map PLOS

This post was written by Amy Alabaster and first appeared on the End the Neglect blog.

In many parts of the world where NTDs run rampant, it’s not uncommon to see communities affected by 2, 3 or even all seven of the most common NTDs. Because of this, countries and other stakeholders involved in NTD control are increasing efforts to integrate disease control programs. Integration helps to reach more people with the drugs needed to treat and prevent NTD infections, while cutting down on costs and resource demands.

In 2007, Mali was one of five ‘fast-track’ countries, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), managed by RTI International and assisted by Helen Keller International, to launch an integrated national NTD Control Program. A paper recently published in the Public Library of Sciences (PLoS) NTDs describes the successes and lessons learned so far through the implementation of this program.


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Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness

Meet HKI’s Friendly Worm Warrior: Emily Toubali

An interview with HKI's Program Manager for Neglected Tropical Disease Control
Moyamba 2

In honor of World Water Day, I am highlighting Helen Keller International’s Program Manager for Neglected Tropical Disease Control, Emily Toubali. One of her responsibilities it to manage our Trachoma Control Programs, a major component of which is promoting face-washing and proper sanitation to prevent this blinding disease. I recently sat down with Emily and asked her about her background, what drew her to the career she has today, and why water is so important to global health.


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Categories Africa, Helen Keller, Preventing Blindness, Staff Profiles

A 1,000 Day Window For a Lifetime of Health

Nepal Mother and Child

This post was written by Yesenia Garcia, Communications Coordinator for the 1,000 Days Partnership and appeared on the 1,000 Days Blog and defeatDD’s blog. Helen Keller International is a proud partner of the 1,000 Days movement.

The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday represent a critical but short window of time to ensure a child’s future health and prosperity. Children who are well-nourished during this critical window reap a lifetime of benefits for themselves and their communities. The nutrition that a mother and her baby receive during these 1,000 days has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty.


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Categories Africa, Asia-Pacific, Reducing Malnutrition

The fight for Maternal and Child Health in Sub-Saharan Africa


This post was written by His Excellency Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete – President of the United Republic of Tanzania and originally appeared in Global Health and Diplomacy magazine.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on maternal and child health are lagging far behind target. Although Africa has just 12% of the global population, it accounts for half of all maternal deaths and half the deaths of children under five.

In Tanzania, attendance at prenatal clinics is over 94% but only 50% give birth at proper health facilities. It is not like in the United States where giving birth at home is a matter of choice. In our part of the world, women are unable to reach proper medical help at their most vulnerable time. I was born under the hand of a traditional birth attendant and I grew up healthy and strong to become the president of my country. It is my hope that we can provide the same opportunity to every child.


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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

How to Make a Difference: Meet HKI’s Jennifer Nielsen

An interview with HKI's Senior Program Manager for Nutrition and Health
Jennifer in Nepal

I often wonder how people actually get to live their dreams. I sat down recently with Jennifer Nielsen, Senior Program Manager for Nutrition and Health for Helen Keller International, and discovered someone who has actually done just that. Here is Jennifer’s story:


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Categories Africa, Helen Keller, Reducing Malnutrition, Staff Profiles

Where Bigfoot is Not a Myth

Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) as a Public Health Threat in Sierra Leone
Hannah LF

Imagine waking up one day and your leg starts to swell. It is very painful and no matter what you do, your leg continues to fill with fluid. This is exactly what happened to Hannah Araba Taylor, who has spent her entire life in the Congo Town section of Freetown, Sierra Leone.

One morning twenty-five years ago, Hannah woke up shivering; her entire leg was swollen and very red. Although she didn’t know it yet, she had been infected by the parasite that causes Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) – known locally as “big fut” – a painful Neglected Tropical Disease resulting in disfigurement and swelling that is common among the poor. Although the disease is not life-threatening, it often leaves the infected person so disabled she is unable to work. In addition to the pain, the disfigurement can also create social stigma.


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Categories Africa

Thankful For Orange-fleshed Sweetpotatoes!

Little boy with OFSP

Sweetpotato pie. Sweetpotato casserole with marshmallows. Sweetpotato fries. It seems like this time of year, these starchy, sweet-tasting root vegetables are all the rage. But, did you know that sweetpotatoes are more than just a Thanksgiving staple? In parts of Africa, orange-fleshed sweetpotatoes help save sight and lives.


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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

My Favorite Food

How One Community Prevents Malnutrition by Monitoring the Growth of its Children.

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

In a recent visit to HKI’s work in Tsogal, Niger, replies to my queries about the harvest were not encouraging at all.

“Most families here have only harvested enough to feed their families for two months,” replied one farmer in the community. This year is shaping up to be much less bountiful than last year – but still better than the disastrous harvest of 2009. This is a time when young children are at risk of malnutrition.


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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition

Devastation in Dadaab

Thousands of children require treatment for severe malnutrition.
MUAC measurement

A post by Issakha Diop, who is responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa on behalf of Helen Keller International.

I am currently stationed in northeastern Kenya (260 miles northeast of Nairobi and 46 miles west of Somalia) at Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world. It was designed to provide temporary shelter for the 90,000 people fleeing from Somalia’s civil war in early 1990. As the war, drought, and insecurity continued in Somalia, the three camps in Dadaab – Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley – became home for over 450,000 people.

Today, 1,000 to 1,500 new people arrive each day because of the current drought and food crisis in East Africa.

Little Abdulay Sahal Mohamed from Somalia arrived with his family five days ago. His entire family – his parents and six other siblings – walked for 21 days before reaching a reception point at the Kenya/Somalia border to be transported to Dadaab by UNHCR.


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Categories Africa, Reducing Malnutrition