2014 was a very good year! We partnered with leading NGOs and nonprofits to advance causes that mean the difference between life and death and quality living for the world’s poorest citizens. We traveled around the world to report on water and sanitation, newborns, maternal health, disaster relief, and health workers. We traveled domestically to report on some of our partners’ milestone seminars, conferences, and panels. But most importantly, we kept the momentum going to work collectively as mothers who use social media for good.
We very much look forward to 2015 and what it has in store. Here are our twelve highlight moments of 2014 – in no particular order.
As you might know last Friday marked World Malaria Day, a day to encourage the global health community, the private sector, governments, NGOs, and everyday, ordinary people to keep up the fight to help defeat malaria.
Every minute a child dies of malaria somewhere in the world, most of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, 90% of children who die from malaria live in Africa and 40% of those live in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to WorldMalariaDay.org. There is encouraging news, however. From 2000 – 2012 3.3 million lives were saved due to scaled up malaria control interventions. What many might not understand is that malaria is completely preventable and treatable, a fact that is repeatedly reiterated by the World Health Organization and others. Interventions such a insecticide-treated bed nets, residual indoor spraying, and draining of stagnant water helps to control malaria. One of the reasons many children, especially those under the age of five, die from malaria is because they are not treated in time or remote areas do not have access to rapid diagnostic tests and treatments.
Malaria No More, an international NGO that is determined to end malaria, launched its Malaria Sucks campaign on World Malaria Day that encourages donations, as low as $1, to help save more children from dying from malaria. Malaria Sucks’ icon is an orange lollipop that signifies what children in malaria prone areas miss out on – their childhoods. One donated dollar goes to rapid diagnostic testing and full treatment for one child, so a dollar indeed makes a difference.
Celebrities have taken on the issue like Anthony Bourdain and James Ven Der Beek who tweeted their support of the Malaria Sucks campaign.
“MalariaSUCKS is a fun, tangible way for supporters to connect to an issue that may seem distant from their everyday lives,” said Malaria No More CEO Martin Edlund in a statement. “We’re putting our supporters in the spotlight – asking them to help us create real change through an everyday activity like posting a selfie and spreading a powerful humanitarian message through their social networks. It’s our pink ribbon, only sweeter.”
One thing is certain: I do not know how to read a fiscal budget, but I have sat in awe watching experts dissect the President’s budget line by line and then meticulously explain what programs have been cut and programs that have been relatively spared. So, when our partner, End 7, reported that funding for the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Neglected Tropical Disease Program has been cut by $13.5 million I know that as a community of passionate moms we need to do something.
Neglected tropical diseases are “neglected” because they don’t get the big funding and recognition like HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea, for example. They are diseases that people can usually live with for some time despite discomfort and debilitating ailments and a lowered social standing.
According to End 7, neglected tropical diseases, like hookworm, trachoma, and lymphatic filariasis affect 1 in 6 people worldwide and keep them in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Most people don’t know about these diseases. Their names are too long and technical and don’t grab headlines, but they can be prevented. The global health community has committed itself to controlling and eradicating these neglected tropical diseases by 2020. In order to reach this goal the funding cannot stop now, especially when so much progress has already been made.
In 2012 the London Declaration Committment brought together an array of partners from the World Bank to USAID to GlaxoSmithKline to set strategic goals to eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases by the end of the decade. A recent update report was released showing that more low income countries are implementing programs to control neglected tropical diseases in their own populace, the demand and allocation of drugs to prevent the diseases is higher, and more research and development is going into fighting these diseases. Even more importantly since 2012 the global efforts to control or eradicate neglected tropical diseases has now turned into a global movement. Read Delivering on Progress and Driving Progress.
End 7 is asking its supporters to encourage members of Congress to rethink the proposed spending cut to USAID’s Neglected Tropical Disease Program and to thank Congresswomen Granger and Lowey for keeping neglected tropical diseases on the funding agenda.
When we think about diseases in Africa we think about the biggest of them – malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. We forget about the neglected tropical diseases that debilitate so many in sub-Saharan Africa and southeast Asia from intestinal worms to elephantiasis. These diseases are real and they are easily prevented, but as their name suggests, these diseases are nearly neglected. In fact, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Luis G Sambo, called for increased funding last month to eradicate and control neglected tropical diseases by 2020 in Africa.
There has been notable progress is controlling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). For example, all sub-Saharan countries save for Chad, Mali, Sudan and Ethiopia, have eradicated guinea worm. However there is still much work to do in order to wipe out the seven most common neglected tropical diseases.
The international NGO, End 7, is committed to seeing an end to neglected tropical diseases by 2020, but they need the help of the global public. A mere $.50 can protect one person for a full year from the seven most common NTDs. End7 has put together this telling video that shows the real face of neglected tropical disease. A young girl hasn’t grown properly and is perpetually legargic because of intestinal worms and her grandmother can no longer work because of elephantiasis.
Neglected tropical diseases keep the world’s poorest people in a constant cycle of poverty. These diseases – caused mainly by insects and parasites – keep productivity low. Sometimes entire communities are stricken by one or more of these diseases because they do not understand measure by which these diseases can be prevented and/or do not have the proper medications to keep these diseases at bay.