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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trachoma mapping will aid global effort to rid the world of Neglected Tropical Diseases
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.
HKI experts make the case to include nutritional interventions in programs that treat NTDs.
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.
Lessons learned in Mali can serve as example for other countries implementing integrated NTD programs.
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.
An interview with HKI's Program Manager for Neglected Tropical Disease Control
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.
Tags: Emily Toubali, Lymphatic Filariasis, Mali, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Niger, Sierra Leone, Trachoma, Water and Sanitation
Categories Africa, Helen Keller, Preventing Blindness, Staff Profiles