Tag Archives: NTDs

A Request From the Students: Please Remain Firm on Your Commitment to Fight NTDs

On April 2, many of the world’s experts on Global Health met in Paris at the Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) event, and pledged to place more emphasis on the diseases that are often overlooked by those who determine policy and hold the purse strings. Billions of people—and the governments and NGOs serving them—suffer from the drastic impact of these diseases on virtually every aspect of medical care and daily life. Neglecting them is no longer an option. As medical students, we often read about the outcomes of these distant meetings in the same way we scan over the stock market closing prices (with $100,000 of education debt) or ask about the final score of the Superbowl (while studying); however, my relationship to this meeting was remarkably different, thanks to a moving experience I had at the Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference.

The Unite for Sight Global Health and Innovation Conference took place this past weekend, just two weeks after the discussion in Paris. Presenting my poster on soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) in the indigenous Panamanian population served by Floating Doctors , I expected a few students to passively glance at my tables as they walked past. Instead, I found myself surrounded by professionals with senior positions in well-known global health organizations.

This surprised me, as my research, which deals with the consequences of conditions seldom experienced here in the US, rarely generates great excitement. With Floating Doctors I found that even treated aqueducts cannot deliver clean water to villages when their cracked PVC pipes run through livestock pastures, and TOMS generous donations cannot prevent STH when school children carry their shoes through the fields to keep them clean. Additionally, the well-intentioned bi-annual school-based anthelmintic distributions are either not happening or are ineffective, because over 50% of children in Floating Doctors clinics continue to present with complaints of helminthiasis.

When asked for a solution, I sheepishly replied, “Well, it seems like an impossible problem.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth a senior research officer from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation smiled and firmly said, “No. It is not impossible. That is why we are here. We will help you find a way.” In that moment, the discussion in Paris became less of a distant news story. It brought hope and inspiration to not just me, but to Floating Doctors, a tiny powerhouse of an NGO, and most importantly, to the STH-burdened populations we serve.

My motivation for sharing this experience is to follow it with a sincere request: On behalf of all idealistic and motivated global health students and young professionals, I ask you to please maintain your enthusiasm for tackling these unglamorous and devastating NTDs beyond these first two weeks, and beyond the next few years. Help us turn the fight to reduce and ultimately eliminate NTDs into a challenging, motivating, gratifying, and feasible lifetime career that we can pass on to the students who follow us.

A Yale infectious disease physician made it very clear, as he showed me live hookworm larvae under a microscope in his lab, that the solution to the NTD problem cannot be achieved with plans, protocols, and medications alone. In order to create a truly sustainable fight, young scientists, physicians, and public health professionals must be supported and inspired to research these problems with fresh eyes and open minds.

To those who participated in motivating or making the decision to invest in well-informed steps toward combating the preventable diseases that devastate the health, economy, and educational productivity of people like those served by Floating Doctors, I extend a whole-hearted Thank You!

Hannah Elsevier, MD/MPH Candidate, APHA International Health Student Committee Co-Chair

Eliminating Rabies: WHO Video Review

Did you know that rabies kills more than 60,000 people each year? About half of all victims are children. This year on World Rabies Day, September 28, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared their promise to eliminate human rabies, a neglected tropical disease.

Rabies is a viral disease, spread from animals to humans through saliva. The most deaths from rabies occur in Africa and Asia, with the majority of cases transmitted by dogs. But rabies is preventable! Education and awareness, animal and human vaccinations, and community surveillance are some strategies for prevention and elimination. With lots of attention on the usual global health priority areas, it’s nice to see these three international organizations coming together to raise awareness and fight a neglected tropical disease.

Read their statement and watch this short video for more information. 

Guinea-Worm Disease & Eradication: WHO Video Review

Guinea-worm disease, or dracunculiasis, is a neglected tropical disease (NTD) with no vaccine or medication for treatment. The disease is caused by a parasitic worm known as the Guinea-worm and is transmitted through contaminated drinking water. Guinea-worm disease is the first parasitic disease set for eradication and this short World Health Organization (WHO) video shows the progress of eradication efforts to date.

When someone drinks water from a source contaminated with water fleas that carry the Guinea-worm larvae, the larvae are released in the stomach and pass into the body cavity. Over the course of 10-14 months, the larvae mature and turn into worms. At this point, a painful blister forms on the outside of the body (usually on the lower legs and feet) as the female worms try to exit the body. The blister causes an intense burning sensation which often leads people to submerge their legs/feet in water for relief. While the blister is submerged, the female worm comes out and releases thousands of larvae into the water, thus contaminating the water and completing the cycle of infection. 

I find it amazing that Guinea-worm disease is on the verge of eradication because in this case, eradication has nearly been achieved through preventive measures alone. From health education and increased detection to water filtration and water treatment, the prevention efforts put forth have decreased the number of reported cases from 1,797 in 2010 to just 90 between January and June 2013.

This is a great accomplishment for the global health community. Congratulations to the WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Carter Center, UNICEF and all others supporting the eradication of Guinea-worm disease!

Jimmy Carter, New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, and Carter Center’s Donald Hopkins To Cover Global Health Challenges in New Conversation on Google+ Series

The following is an announcement about an upcoming social media event hosted by the Carter Center.


On Sept. 10 at 3 p.m. ET, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, and Carter Center disease eradication expert Dr. Donald R. Hopkins will hold a special video chat, “Global Health: How We Can Make a Difference,” to kick off a new Conversations on Google+ series that is launching later this fall.

Leading up to the event, from Sept. 4-10, President Carter and Mr. Kristof will participate in online discussions on the social media platform Google+ about the challenges of eradicating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) when the world is focused on security issues and offer their ideas for progress.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE SEPT. 4-10:

Anyone can join the conversation, Sept. 4 – 10, 2013, when President Carter and Mr. Kristof will post discussion questions on global health to members of the American Public Health Association’s Google+ Public Health Community (direct link below).

Anyone on Google+ can join this Community and share their health-related comments with Carter and Kristof. Participants with the most insightful and thoughtful comments will be selected to join a special Conversations on Google+ online broadcast with President Carter, Mr. Kristof, and Dr. Hopkins live on Sept. 10.

Sign up for Google+, a social media platform, by visiting https://plus.google.com/.

Google+ users can join the Public Health Community by clicking on the “join community” button at the following link: https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/109215334990434447518.

CONVERSATIONS ON GOOGLE+ LIVE BROADCAST SEPT. 10:

Tune-in on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m. ET for a live broadcast of a Conversation on Google+ hosted by The Carter Center and featuring President Carter, Mr. Kristof, Dr. Hopkins, and selected participants from Google+’s Public Health Community.

Conversations on Google+ allows everyday users the opportunity to engage global experts in discussions on the issues that matter to them. The Conversations on Google+ series will continue with other high profile speakers later in the year.

Anyone can watch the event live or in archive from several locations online:

TWEET WITH US: The Carter Center will be live-tweeting the Sept. 10 event from @CarterCenter using the hashtag #CarterConvo.

WHAT ARE NEGLECTED TROPICAL DISEASES?

NTDs are a group of 17 illnesses that affect more 500 million children and more than 1 billion people worldwide. Often found in the world’s most disadvantaged communities, NTDs can cause severe disability, robbing people of the opportunity to improve their own lives. Children suffering from NTDs often cannot attend school and adult sufferers may be less able to work, harvest food, or care for their families. The Carter Center is a leader in the eradication, elimination, and control of neglected tropical diseases, fighting six preventable diseases — Guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria — by using health education and simple, low-cost methods.

ABOUT THE EXPERTS:

  • President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, founded The Carter Center in 1986 in partnership with Emory University to alleviate suffering worldwide. A long champion of campaigns to wipe out neglected diseases, in 2002, President Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development” through his work with the Center.
  • Nicholas D. Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Op-Ed columnist of The New York Times, best known for writing about poverty, disease, and marginalization around the world.
  • Dr. Donald R. Hopkins is the Carter Center’s vice president for health programs and a former interim director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A medical doctor, he is internationally recognized for his work on NTDs and disease eradication, including smallpox and Guinea worm disease.

About Google+ :

Google+ is a sharing and communications platform that brings your real-world friendships and relationships online for a fun, interactive experience—as well as lets you make new friends and connections with people who share your passions and interests. Much more than a social network, Google+ makes it even easier to use other Google products, share content, and use integrated text and video chat—all for free. https://plus.google.com/

About The Carter Center:

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Follow Nicholas Kristof on Social Media:

MSF Videos: Neglected Tropical Diseases

MSF recently released this set of videos on NTDs (neglected tropical diseases). On a related note, I am looking for someone to take over this duty for the blog (finding interesting/relevant YouTube videos and posting them here with some brief commentary), so if you are interested, please e-mail me!



Sleeping sickness is a fatal and much neglected disease that plagues parts of Africa.



Chagas is a parasitic disease found on the American continent, where it affects an estimated 8 to 10 million people and claims up to 12,500 lives every year.


[youtube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvyMN4sEEDY]
Kala Azar is a neglected tropical disease responsible for 50,000 deaths every year.

Webcast: Uniting to Combat NTDs

Please tune in for a special webcast featuring Bill Gates, Margaret Chan, Stephen O’Brien, pharmaceutical industry CEOs and other partners on:

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Ending the Neglect and Reaching 2020 Goals

Webcast will go live Monday, January 30, 6:00 a.m. EST at http://www.unitingtocombatntds.org.
An archived video will be available after the event for on-demand viewing.

Join a group of international partners for an event that demonstrates how innovative partnership can accelerate improvements in health and development for millions of people living in the world’s poorest countries.

Through a series of coordinated commitments, these partners aim to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and drive progress toward the World Health Organization’s goals for control or elimination by 2020.

The event will feature:

· Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General, World Health Organization
· CEOs of Nine Leading Pharmaceutical Companies
· Bill Gates, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
· Senior Government Officials from Tanzania, Mozambique, Brazil and Zanzibar
· Stephen O’Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, UK Department for International Development
· Dr. Bernard Pécoul, Executive Director, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative
· Dr. Ariel Pablos-Méndez, Assistant Administrator for Global Health, US Agency for International Development
· Dr. Caroline Anstey, Managing Director, World Bank
· Moderated by: Riz Khan, Al Jazeera English

Global Health News Last Week

The Supercourse team at the University of Pittsburgh has taken the initiative to spread the WHO’s definition of health, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”  They have translated the definition into over 60 different languages using Google translate and have asked health professionals to review them to make sure they are correct.  This global health knowledge campaign is being developed by the Supercourse team, WHO Collaborating Centre, University of Pittsburgh.  Please contact Dr. Ronald LaPorte, Director, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh, for more information.

July 28 was the first-ever World Hepatitis Day.

POLITICS AND POLICY

  • As the UN gears up for its Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases this September, blogger Michael Hodin argues that by focusing on this issue, the world body has a “new shot at relevance” in an era where its importance is decreasing (and countries contemplate cutting its funding).
  • Former U.S. Ambassador on HIV/AIDS Jack Chow says the CIA’s fake vaccination scheme in Pakistan, aimed at locating Osama Bin Laden, threatens to undermine a broad set of American global health initiatives.
  • The U.S. government and the Gates Foundation were responsible for 85% of the steep increase in malaria funding between 2007 and 2009. Richard Tren argues that we need to diversify funding sources and focus on control efforts.

PROGRAMS

  • The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has teamed up with FC Barcelona to promote the polio eradication campaign.
  • To raise awareness about violence against women in Europe, the UN has opened up a contest to design a newspaper advertisement in support of the UN Secretary-General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. View submissions and the winning entries here.
  • Seattle-based development blogger Tom Paulson continues to raise some interesting issues regarding the Gates Foundation’s funding of media coverage for global health issues.  Their latest venture is a weekly program on the BBC.

RESEARCH

  • Researchers have cracked the DNA code of the strain of E. coli that originated in German sprouts and killed over 50 people this summer.
  • A cell phone that doubles as a blood-oxygen tester is one of the 77 mHealth innovation finalists for the Saving Lives at Birth: A Grand Challenge for Development competition.
  • A study conducted by the WHO found that France, the U.S., the Netherlands, and India have the highest rates of depression in the world, while China has the lowest.  Detailed interviews were conducted with over 89,000 individuals in 18 countries.
  • It is becoming more apparent that one of the most effective ways to deal with HIV/AIDS is to address neglected tropical diseases, argues the Public Library of Science in Eureka Alert.
  • A study of the lifespan of HIV patients receiving combination ARV therapy by researchers at University of Ottawa has found that patients can expect to live a near normal lifespan.
  • Researchers at Oklahoma University believe that a protein-based vaccine could prevent many cases of childhood pneumonia.
  • Dutch researchers have found that children who were not breastfed were more likely to develop respiratory problems such as asthma.
  • The first stage of trials for a new malaria vaccine by Swiss researchers in Tanzania have shown promising results.
  • Has announced in a study in Pediatrics that the varicella vaccine for chickenpox has reduced the annual death toll in the United States from 105 to 14. Tests are in progress that could lead to major family planning advances. The New York Times reports on some innovations in male contraceptives that could offer safe and effective contraception.

DISEASES AND DISASTERS

  • The Agbogbloshie slum outside of Accra, Ghana, is a major electronics waste dump.  This site is an example of what happens to “donated” discarded electronics: residents burn them to extract precious metals and simultaneously exposed to a host of hazardous chemicals, as the goods release lead, mercury,
    thallium, hydrogen cyanide, and PVC.
  • A recent article by a global panel uses startling images to call attention to the woeful state of neglect and inadequate treatment of mental illness in developing nations.