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
Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) as a Public Health Threat in Sierra Leone
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.
Helen Keller International and Children Without Worms work together to treat and prevent intestinal worms in at-risk, school-aged children.
This post was written by Kim Koporc, director of Children Without Worms. She also blogged about school-based deworming for ABC News’ “Be the Change: Save a Life.”
A month ago, I had the privilege of working with Zaman Talukder, Len Wanak and Hou Kroeun of Helen Keller International at the Chung Ruk primary school in Pnom Penh, Cambodia. We were there to oversee a “deworming day” – a day when children receive deworming medication and learn the importance of hygiene and sanitation in an effort to treat and prevent intestinal worms. What made this trip different was that this time, I went with a crew to produce a film, which was shown at this year’s Global Health Council Conference.
Doug reflects on how HKI is preventing blindness and reducing malnutrition for the most vulnerable in West Africa.
Today, we drove the 150 miles from Fada N’Gourma to Ouagadougou – the last leg before flying out tomorrow morning. On arriving in Ouagadougou, Nicholas Kristof and the “Win-a-Trip” winners visited a center for supporting people living with HIV. Over the course of the past week, Shawn Baker and I have accompanied Nick through four countries – Mauritania, Senegal, Niger and Burkina Faso. We’ve been in numerous villages, and we’ve spoken in depth with many people – mostly women – about the challenges of their lives and the solutions to help improve their lot.
In pursuit of HKI’s mission to prevent blindness and reduce undernutrition, we focus on two major program areas in Africa – fighting malnutrition (particularly micronutrient deficiency), and controlling certain tropical diseases, such as trachoma and onchocerciasis. During this past week, we have seen some successful programs in each of these areas. During these days, I’ve been reflecting on HKI’s approach to reducing malnutrition.
Tags: Acute Malnutrition, Biofortification, Breastfeeding, Burkina Faso, Douglas Steinberg, Essential Nutrition Actions, Food Fortification, Gardens, Homestead Food Production, Neglected Tropical Diseases, Nicholas Kristof, Niger, Onchocerciasis, Sweetpotatoes, Trachoma, Vitamin A
Categories Africa, Preventing Blindness, Reducing Malnutrition
Doug Steinberg goes to a village in Niger that has eliminated the threat of River Blindness thanks to mass drug distribution.
Doug Steinberg, HKI’s Deputy Regional Director for West Africa, joins the team traveling with NY Times Journalist, Nicholas Kristof. The picture to the left is Doug with Kalifa Doumbia, a community distributor of the drug, Ivermectin.
The village of Moli is located about 85 miles south of Niger’s capital Niamey on the edge of the W National Park, a wildlife reserve with big game, small creatures and a variety of bird-life. The area lies west of the Niger River, with many tributaries flowing through it. These streams dry up in the long, dry season, but they come to life in the rainy season, which is just beginning. Among the life is the black fly, a vector for Onchocerciasis (river blindness).