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Archives for Global Health

Results, Results, Results

Originally posted at 1,000 Days

Last week at the High-Level Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition in New York City, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended the progress being made by the 30 countries that have committed to putting nutrition at the heart of their approach to development.  The 30 SUN countries are home to 56 million children suffering from stunted growth due to chronic malnutrition, representing more than one-quarter of the world’s stunted children.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 2nd Annual High-level Meeting on Scaling Up Nutrition. Photo credit: John Gillespie UNIC

Putting nutrition front and center

The Secretary General stressed the importance of boosting global efforts to end “the hidden disgrace of stunting.” His comments were echoed by Anthony Lake, Chairman of the SUN Lead Group and Executive Director of UNICEF, who noted that stunting is one of the most under-recognized and under-attended issues in the world today, yet it can be prevented for approximately $15 per child.

Over the past year, countries in the SUN movement have set themselves clear targets, scaled up programs targeting women and children, and put into place the necessary resources to begin to tackle to problem of malnutrition.  At the meeting, several leaders highlighted new or intensified commitments to scale up nutrition, including:

  • Peru’s First Lady, Nadine Heredia, who indicated that tackling child malnutrition is a critical pathway to breaking the cycle of poverty between generations in Peru and highlighted that the Peruvian President has signed a commitment to protect a $1 billion budget allocation for fighting child malnutrition.
  • Tamar Manuelyan Atinc, World Bank Vice President for Human Development, announced that the World Bank committed to increase investments in nutrition from $100 million per year to $560 million over the next two years which would expand the Bank’s reach into 36 countries, where 70 percent of the world’s stunted children live.
  • Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator, committed to decrease stunting by 20% over five years in 14 of the 30 SUN countries:  Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.  He also highlighted results achieved with U.S. funds to date.  In Uganda, U.S. funding has meant that 50 million children received vitamin A supplementation last year, along with a 90% increase in the use of cooking fortified with Vitamin A.  Collective efforts in Tanzania have encouraged the government to hire more than 100 district nutrition officers, leading teams that have the potential to reach more than 20 million people.  An initiative with the Government of Bangladesh, CARE and 44 local organizations has created a 30 percent reduction in stunting for children under age five.

While progress at country-level to scale up nutrition has indeed accelerated since the SUN movement was born in 2010, the focus is now on results, results, results.  From now until 2015—the next critical benchmark for the SUN movement and the year the world takes stock of its progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)—success will depend on the ability to translate political will into tangible and lasting improvements in rates of malnutrition.  The road ahead will likely be a challenging one as global economic problems persist, and food price crises and climactic shocks continue to threaten progress toward curbing chronic malnutrition.  This is precisely why now, more than ever, the global community must rally to mobilize unprecedented resources behind ending the “hidden disgrace” of chronic malnutrition.

Social Good: Igniting Passion and Innovation for a Better World

Originally posted at AIDS.gov

Anjana Padmanabhan Photo Credit: Aids.gov

Last week, global leaders gathered in New York City to discuss a wide spectrum of international issues at the highly anticipated annual United Nations General Assembly . But just days before the U.N. Assembly, New York and the Twitterverse were buzzing with another important global conversation sparked by the third annual Social Good Summit.  Hosted by Mashable , 92nd Street Y, the United Nations Foundation, Ericsson, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Summit was in full swing from September 22-24. Bloggers, social media wonks, and health and development experts alike crowded together to discuss how new media technologies can be applied to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

We’re living at a time where anyone can be a diplomat. All you have to do is hit send.”  –United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, September 22, 2012.

The electricity at the Summit was palpable. Passionate minds were immersed in discussion around one common goal: how can we unlock and maximize today’s social media tools to empower women, combat climate change, increase access to life-saving medicines and health education, end human trafficking, as well as promote peace?

This year, the Summit expanded the dialogue by hosting hubs in Beijing, China and Nairobi, Kenya. There were also meetups scheduled in 264 cities across the world, and people in over 150 countries tuned in to the livestream. It was no surprise that by the second day of the Summit the hashtag #SGSGlobal was used over 60,000 times and trended across Twitter with tweets in over 50 languages.

As the social media advisor for a major U.S. global health initiative, The U.S. Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), I was looking forward to learning about new technological platforms that governments, civil society organizations and entrepreneurs were using to expand their online presence and encourage a two-way dialogue with their constituencies.

There were a few sessions in particular that resonated with me.

I enjoyed listening to “Unleashing the Power of Open Innovation in Government,” led by Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer of the United States. The ever-enthusiastic Park took to the stage and reinforced the government’s commitment to making information and data transparent and accessible to the American people.  Park holds regular “hack-a-thons” and “datapaloozas” geared towards bridging the gap between tech entrepreneurs and government data.Health.data.gov is an example of the fruits of that labor, providing raw and aggregate data to help foster healthier communities across the United States. Park taught us that the word “innovation” can be synonymous with “government.”

The Social Good Summit was also the launching pad for a new public-private partnership created by The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria  in conjunction with The Huffington Post. The campaign named “The Big Push”  will use technological platforms to rally global support to achieve major health goals. The Huffington Post has launched a dedicated webpage for the campaign where it will collect articles, stories and testimonials on the progress toward meeting these goals. The initiative is also backed by major Hollywood stars like Charlize Theron and Bono. The centerpiece to the campaign is, “a wall of portraits, in which citizens around the world add photos of themselves holding signs that demonstrate their commitment to fighting these diseases.” This is an exciting new way to gather people from across the world and allow them to be a part of the response. We need more campaigns like that that reach people at the grassroots level.

An initiative focused on child survival was also at the top of my list for notable sessions at the Social Media Summit. Launched by UNICEF, A Promise Renewed  is an ambitious program that will unite governments and partners globally to advance the UN Secretary General’s movement Every Woman Every Child to end preventable child deaths and allow children to make it past their fifth birthday. Audiences rapidly shot off tweets and Facebook messages as Anthony Lake, Executive Director, UNICEF; Raj Shah, Administrator, USAID; and Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Health, Ethiopia gave us statistics on the progress made and the challenges that remain to improving the lives of children worldwide.  An initiative like “A Promise Renewed” encourages people to use technology to hold governments accountable for creating effective and sustainable programs that will bring us closer to reaching Millennium Development Goal targets by 2015.

Overall, the Summit demonstrated to me that we no longer need buy-in for why advancing social media is important. Today, the world is on board.

The Summit might be over, but I’ll continue doing my part using social media to share the successes and stories of lives saved through PEPFAR and fostering dialogue so that together, we can achieve an #AIDSfreeGeneration.

Addressing Malnutrition – Turning Commitments into Action

As the Olympics came to a close last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron opened the doors of 10 Downing Street to a small gathering of world leaders.  They met to announce new initiatives addressing the global challenge of malnutrition, which affects two billion people worldwide.  Perhaps the most promising pledge to emerge from this Hunger Summit was the commitment to greater cooperation between governments, civil society and business.


Mother feeding a child in Kenya. Photo credit: Sight and Life

While we share the same goal—healthy, well-nourished families and communities—too often, agencies, ministries, donors and businesses operate in silos, hindering action and missing key opportunities for collaboration that could improve the health and lives of millions.

We have made tremendous progress in the last five years in terms of prioritizing the issue, and we now have a number of global commitments to address malnutrition.  It would, therefore, seem that we are no longer lacking political will.  In addition, we now know just how cost effective it is to invest in nutrition: there is literally no greater investment we can make in health and development. The Copenhagen Consensus named micronutrient solutions the single smartest way to allocate global aid dollars, with every $1 spent generating $30 in benefits. The fact is combating malnutrition is at the top of the list because its impact can be felt across sectors—from health to agriculture to the economy. Improving nutrition is the most effective way to secure a better future.

Although conversations like the UK Hunger Summit are important in tackling malnutrition, preventing stunting and improving the life chances of millions of children, ultimately, we won’t have the impact we seek to achieve through conversations alone. Yes, we need to convene and collaborate—but the reality is we need to come away with concrete actions clearly outlining how we will all work together across sectors, and be held accountable for our commitments. Cameron and fellow host Michel Temer, Vice President of Brazil, urged the world to take decisive action on malnutrition before the 2016 Olympic Games inRio. That’s just four years away. Between now and then, partnerships between governments, civil society and business have to move from talk to action—that is, effective nutrition programs in countries.

This week, as world leaders gather at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), we have the opportunity to again meet as a global community under the banner of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement, and to outline how we will strengthen current partnerships and explore new ones to accelerate implementation. Global convenings, like the Hunger Summit and UNGA, provide us with the space to create and sustain dialogue, and share knowledge. But then it’s up to each of us, as organizations and individuals, to carry the torch. Together, we can improve nutrition and give millions of children the opportunity to grow, thrive and reach their full potential.

Klaus Kraemer, Ph.D. is Director of Sight and Life, a not-for-profit nutrition think tank of DSM, which cares about the world’s most vulnerable populations and exists to help improve their nutritional status. Acting as their advocates, Sight and Life guides original nutrition research, disseminates its findings and facilitates dialogue to bring about positive change.

Have a Coke and Some Life-Saving Medicine

Lifesaving medicines are frustratingly unavailable to millions of women and children each year. Frank Naqvi, Photoshare

When was the last time you heard a woman say, “I went to the hospital to have my baby, but they sent me to the drug shop down the street to buy supplies?” Or a health worker say, “I knew what medicine my patient needed, but I haven’t had that medicine for months?”

If you live in the U.S. or any other developed country, you’ve probably never heard this, or would think this woman and health worker were joking. But for women, families, and providers in developing countries, these stories and others are all too common…and it’s definitely not a joke.  As my colleague, Mary Ellen Stanton, eloquently captures in her post earlier this week on Saving Mothers, Giving Life, lifesaving medicines are frustratingly unavailable to millions of women and children each year.  It is unimaginable that simple and affordable medicines could save millions of lives, yet are still so far out of reach for millions.

The medicine oxytocin is needed to prevent and treat severe bleeding after childbirth. Oral rehydration salts (ORS) and zinc are needed to prevent deaths from childhood diarrhea.  And family planning commodities are needed to ensure women and their families can decide when or whether to have children – all key factors in maternal and child survival.

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on access to maternal health medicines or commodities. During this time, I’ve learned that the issues related to lack of availability, access, and demand for maternal, newborn, and child health and family planning commodities have many causes, including lack of manufacturers; lack of quality control at many points in the supply chain; providers are unfamiliar with or untrained in newer medicines or equipment; supplies don’t reach the “last mile” to remote health centers; and people don’t know that treatments are available.

But I’ve also learned that these are not insurmountable challenges. Commodities of various types do reach distant and hard-to-reach areas. One often cited example is Coca-Cola, a beverage enjoyed by millions every day, which is both affordable and available even in the most remote villages. You can actually get a Coke in remote Tshikaji, DRC!

And now, we are seeing renewed commitment among donors, country governments, and other stakeholders to make lifesaving health commodities accessible, affordable and available to millions of women, children and families around the world.

Today, the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities for Women and Children released 10 bold recommendations which, if achieved, will ensure women and children will have access to 13 life-saving commodities.

USAID’s long term, strategic vision looks to integrate these life-saving commodities as part of the next steps to other key efforts, like the Child Survival Call to Action and London Summit on Family Planning, in order to increase the speed at which we scale-up in host countries. It is important that we learn from our experiences and successes in getting vaccines and malaria, HIV/AIDS, and family planning commodities into the hands and homes of those most in need. Additionally, we need to integrate systems across commodities to better and more efficiently serve women and children everywhere, and scale up programs to have nation-wide impact.

Country leadership is also a vital component to successfully addressing many of the Commission’s recommendations.  Getting pallets of commodities in warehouses is just one step.  Medicines and drugs must reach people, and health care workers have to be present and skilled to administer them.

With our host country partners in the lead, we are working to strengthen supply chains for commodities, which include use of mHealth solutions; support local market shaping; improve the quality of medicines; and increase demand by mothers for necessary medicines.  This needs to happen if we are to ensure the poorest and most vulnerable women and children have the commodities they need.

These two themes, integration and country ownership, form the cornerstones of our work. My hope is that someday soon, I’ll walk past a market in a remote part of Africa with fully stocked shelves of Coke, and into a health clinic fully stocked with life-saving commodities and medicines.

Working Together to Save Moms & Kids in Afghanistan

A decade ago, Afghanistan’s health system collapsed, leaving crumbling and neglected infrastructure, widespread prevalence of malnutrition, infectious disease, and some of the highest maternal mortality rates the world had ever seen. Over the last decade, the Ministry of Public Health, in a strong partnership with the international community, has made major progress in improving the health of Afghan mothers and children. National programs to improve the quality of, and increase access to, basic health services and essential hospital services, along with programs to increase the number of trained female providers including midwives, and improved community-based healthcare, contributed to these significant achievements.

In Afghanistan, USAID is working with the Government to build capacity in its Ministry of Health, among midwives, and in local hospitals, and have helped to increase health coverage from eight percent to over 60 percent of the people over ten years.  This progress has helped the country realize an incredible drop in infant, child and maternal mortality rates, and the global community move the dial on Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5.

Watch Dr. Suraya Dalil, Minister of Public Health in Afghanistan, talk about this incredible milestone.

‘Reaching the Moon’ in Global Health

As the U.N. General Assembly opens, we are in the midst of a global health revolution.  Our collective work has delivered extraordinary results – a 70 percent decline in child mortality over the last 50 years, a 41 percent reduction since 1990 alone.  We have also made great strides in diminishing the desperation that has come with the threat of AIDS.  We can celebrate these great accomplishments, while acknowledging the remaining challenges and embracing a bold, action-oriented vision – to end preventable child deaths, create  an AIDS-free generation, invest in women and save mothers, and build the health system foundations for universal health coverage.  At UNGA, I and others will continue to focus on these themes and this vision, and I have confidence that the leaders gathered also now have global health and child survival included among their highest priorities.

These are not just aspirational or ambitious goals, but a collective moral and ethical test for humanity. Delivered more than 50 years ago, President Kennedy’s stirring “moon speech” rings true of the promise for global health today. “We choose…because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”  For health, “reaching the moon” will advance human progress—helping families escape devastating cycles of poverty and disease that drain vital health and economic resources, hold back communities and nations, and prevent young children from living up to their God-given potential.

In June, at the Child Survival Call to Action in Washington D.C., world leaders embraced the strategic shifts necessary to speed up progress in reducing preventable maternal, newborn and child deaths.  These shifts included increasing efforts in the countries where most deaths occur, focusing on vulnerable populations like the very poor, and investing in high impact solutions to address the biggest killers, such as neonatal complications.

More than 141 governments, 119 civil society organizations, 90 faith-based organizations, and 20 new private sector partnerships made pledges and commitments to keep our promise and work to end preventable child death in a generation. And those numbers continue to grow.  First, these partners agreed to accelerate actions to achieve MDG 4 and 5 targets.  They went further to embrace an aspiration of getting below 20 child deaths per 1000 births by 2035, and to reduce disparities within countries already at or below that level.  And they agreed to hold themselves mutually accountable for achieving this accelerated progress. This is not a far-fetched dream, and countries themselves are the key partners in making this vision a reality.  For example, domestic health spending may double in many of USAID’s partner countries within the current decade, marking a significant economic transition for health and an opportunity to maximize the impact of that increased spending.

Nearly 30 years ago, USAID and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the support of the U.S. Congress, launched a “child survival revolution” aimed at reducing the number of deaths among young children in developing countries.  At the time, an estimated 15 million children under age 5 in the developing world died from common, preventable diseases each year.  Without reduced rates of mortality, the number of deaths today would be about 17 million each year. Instead, it is 6.9 million. Of course, 19,000 children dying of largely preventable causes is far too many, but our progress in the past gives us great hope for success in the future.

The last generation went to the moon, and this generation has an equally incredible opportunity to meet the moral challenge I’ve discussed here.  We need to end preventable child and maternal deaths.  This is not just a vision for health, but a fundamental pillar of sustainable development.   This is a shared vision and opportunity we can all work toward, and neither the moon nor the end to preventable child death are too far away.

A Gamechanger: Using Vaginal Rings to Deliver HIV Prevention

You’ve all seen the commercials, and may have friends that are using it – the contraceptive vaginal ring.  It’s quickly gaining popularity in the U.S. and elsewhere, because it’s so effective AND convenient to use – just pop it in once a month and forget about it.  The contraceptive vaginal ring has certainly sparked the interests of scientists working on HIV prevention, since use of a vaginal ring to deliver anti-HIV drugs would be a huge benefit in the fight against HIV, particularly for women.

Well, we’re one step closer to making that a reality: with funding from PEPFAR through USAID, researchers from the New York-based Population Council have found that a vaginal ring releasing an anti-HIV drug can prevent the transmission of SHIV in monkeys.  Their findings were recently published in Science Translational Medicine.  This study provides the first efficacy data on the delivery of an anti-HIV drug from a vaginal ring, and indicates strong potential for the success of such rings in women.

In their study, Council scientists examined whether vaginal rings containing a proprietary anti-HIV compound called MIV-150 could prevent the transmission of SHIV — a virus combining genes from HIV and SIV (the monkey version of HIV). Macaques received MIV-150 vaginal rings either two weeks or 24 hours before exposure to SHIV; a second group of macaques received placebo rings in the same manner.  In both groups the rings were removed either immediately before or two weeks after exposure to SHIV.

It turns out that it didn’t matter whether the MIV-150 rings were inserted two weeks or 24 hours before virus exposure – only two of 17 macaques with the MIV-150 rings got infected (compared to the placebo group, in which 11 out of 16 became infected). What was interesting, though, was that the protection was lost if the MIV-150 rings were removed just prior to virus exposure: in that scenario, four of seven monkeys were infected.

This important study in monkeys provides additional scientific support for clinical trials that are already starting in southern Africa with another anti-HIV vaginal ring.  This ring (releasing a drug called dapivirine) was developed by the International Partnership for Microbicides with support from USAID and a number of other donors. Further testing will take several years to complete.

What’s really exciting is that research organizations are working on vaginal rings that could deliver compounds that prevent HIV, other sexually-transmitted diseases such as HSV and HPV, and unintended pregnancy.  This kind of combination prevention option especially for women, also known as “multipurpose prevention technologies,” is a new area of research spear-headed by USAID, in collaboration with other donors such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.K.’s Department for International Development (DFID), and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that support research in family planning and reproductive health.  Learn more about new contraceptive and multipurpose prevention technologies in our slideshow.

USAID Book Club: A Farewell to Alms

Fall semester @USAID banner image

As part of USAID’s Fall Semester, we will host an online book club for our readers this fall. The Impact Blog will post suggestions from our senior experts at USAID to suggest a book on important issues in international development.  We’ll provide you and your book club with the reading suggestions and discussion questions, and you tell us what you think! Our fall reading list will  explore solutions to the most pressing global challenges in international development—mobile solutions, poverty, hunger, health, economic growth, and agriculture.

This week’s choice comes from: USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Dr. Rajiv Shah serves as the 16th Administrator of USAID and leads the efforts of more than 8,000 professionals in 80 missions around the world.

Book: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World, by Gregory Clark

Synopsis: The source of human progress has long been a subject of debate. What makes rich countries rich, and poor countries poor? In the this book,  University of California, Davis, Economist Gregory Clark offers a provocative take on the age-old question, arguing that it was culture—rather than geography, natural resources or centuries of exploitation—that left some parts of the globe behind.

According to Clark, relative stability and effective workforces enabled certain societies to take better advantage of the Industrial Revolution’s new technologies and opportunities. Those countries with lax systems or undisciplined workers lost ground, and stayed there.

Clark’s book is skeptical of whether the poorest parts of the world will ever achieve real progress. For development professionals, it offers up a challenge to the belief that outside intervention can help bridge the vast economic divide between rich and poor.

Review:  This book impacted me because it shows how for hundreds, or even thousands, of years basic economic progress was largely stagnant. You didn’t have rapid compound increases in living standards until the Industrial Revolution when some countries and some societies got on a pathway towards growth – towards better health, longer life expectancy, higher income per person and more investment in education. Others remained on a slower-moving pathway.

That great divergence, and the study of it, is at the core of development. It is that divergence that we try to learn from and correct for. We define success in development as helping communities and countries get on that pathway towards improved health and education, and greater wealth creation.

I didn’t choose this book because I think it is the definitive story on development, but rather because I share its focus on core economic growth as the driver of divergence.

I disagree where Clark concludes that some societies failed to take advantage of the availability of modern technology because their cultures were antagonistic to development. With the right conditions in place, you can unlock a formidable work ethic from a range of different cultures and communities. The last 50 years have shown us that. By investing in local capacity and local institutions, we can leave a legacy of economic infrastructure, strong and capable leadership, and transparent, effective public and private sector institutions.

USAID’s partnerships in Latin America helped country after country develop strong institutions. The same can be said for South Korea. Unfortunately, there have been examples where aid and assistance have been provided in a manner that was not as sensitive to building lasting local capacity and institutions. This is true for all partners, not just our Agency. That’s why we’ve launched a program called USAID Forward, to refocus on working in a way that will create durable and sustained progress.

Administrator Shah is on Twitter at @rajshah. You  can also “Ask the Administrator” your questions on Crowdhall

Discussion Questions

1. Do you agree with Clark that some societies failed to take advantage of the availability of modern technology because their cultures were antagonistic to development?

2. The Nobel prize-winning economist Robert Solow has said Clark does not take into account how institutional factors, such as cronyism, inequitable taxation and ineffectual government cripple development. What role do you think these institutional factors play?

3. Clark challenges how effective outside intervention can be in helping poor nations progress. Do you agree?

4. Regardless of why some nations have fallen behind, how do you think they can bridge that gap today?

5. Has your world view changed after reading this book and how?

Get Involved: Use the comments section of this blog post to share your answers, or tweet them to us at #fallsemester

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Help Fight Disease

Guest Author Lisa Schechtman is the Head of Policy and Advocacy for WaterAid in America.

Earlier this year, I attended a meeting of the Alliance for Global Elimination of Trachoma. I was there to represent safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), which are critical to the global strategy to eliminate blinding trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness. Partnerships such as these, which bring those from the water, sanitation and hygiene sector together with other health professionals, are vital in developing a holistic approach to tackling the root causes of trachoma, and other diseases known collectively as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).

Worldwide, one billion people are affected by one or more NTD, many of which are linked to lack of access to high-quality water, sanitation and hygiene. For example, poor hygiene allows flies, attracted by dirty faces, to spread trachoma, or skin-to-skin contact to spread yaws. Sanitation and waste management could help control spread of these diseases in the first place.  Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia), and guinea worm, also NTDs, are spread by infected snails or fleas that live in water contaminated due to a lack of sanitation.

While crucial to preventing NTDs, hygiene promotion takes targeted work with individuals and communities; it is not often prioritized and even less often measured and evaluated. Sanitation is one of the farthest off-track of all Millennium Development Goal targets, with 2.5 billion people still needing access to even a basic pit latrine. We still have a long way to go to reach universal access to WASH; yet, if we don’t address these neglected issues, we won’t succeed in addressing the consequences.

Neglected Topical Diseases have that name for a reason. They affect the most marginalized and forgotten members of our global community—those who live in extreme poverty, in rural areas “off the grid,” already affected by disabilities, chronic illness and other challenges.  Though unknown to most Americans, these diseases can cause blindness, physical disabilities, impaired cognitive development, heart failure, and a host of other consequences, including death. Yet with holistic development and global health programs targeting the poorest people, NTDs can be prevented and ultimately eradicated as they have been here in the United States.

Eradication of NTDs requires focused responses in affected localities, to promote hygiene or control disease vectors such as flies and mosquitoes, but also broader attention to infrastructure basics, such as latrines. This requires political will, coordination, and innovative partnerships to challenge business as usual

From the U.S. President’s Global Health Initiative driving integration across sectors at the highest political levels, to partnerships between WaterAid and other national and international NGOs that ensure the right expertise is available for household-based sanitation drives, coordination of WASH and NTD control efforts is part of what makes progress possible.

An added value of focusing on Neglected Tropical Diseases is that it requires us to consider equity, dignity, and the most basic needs of the people most often left behind. In order to really eradicate many of these diseases, equitable WASH access must be a shared goal. Together, we must maintain—and accelerate—momentum, keep our promises, and forge new relationships to be sure we’re reaching those most at risk of preventable illness and death. After all, the primary value of doing this work is simple indeed: we do it to save lives.

The END7 Campaign Unites!

Guest author Dr. Neeraj Mistry is the Managing Director of the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The work to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) is one of the greatest examples of the power of innovative public-private partnerships.  Endemic country governments, development partner governments such as the United States, non-profit organizations, pharmaceutical companies, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and many others have come together in an unprecedented way to demonstrate support for populations affected by these terrible diseases.

In spite of this progress, though, we noticed that a crucial population was missing: the general public.

That’s why in January 2012, the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases launched END7, the only public awareness campaign focused exclusively on NTDs.  END7 is a compelling digital campaign that relies on a variety of social media channels and visual communications to get the word out about NTDs and rally mass appeal around our goal of eliminating the seven most common NTDs by 2020.

So far, we’re thrilled with the response.  Since January of this year, we’ve grown to a community of more than 20,000 supporters and we’ve enlisted the help of big names in the music and entertainment industry in spreading the word far and wide.

But even more than the reach, we’re excited about the two-way engagement that we see taking place on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.   We recognize that disease names like onchocerciasis and schistosomiasis don’t exactly lend themselves to casual conversation, so the active level of participation evident on these channels is a certain sign that our supporters both understand the problem and want to be part of the solution.

As we continue into year two of the campaign, we will continue to create buzz around NTDs. We know that by doing so, we’re helping to promote our partners’ terrific work in the field and enticing new supporters and partners to join us.

For those not yet acquainted with the END7 campaign, we encourage you, your colleagues, and your friends to visit our website and join us on Facebook and Twitter!

Together we can see the end!

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