Trip Report: Mapping Progress Made in Myanmar and Sri Lanka

In May of this year, our staff traveled to Myanmar and Sri Lanka to support neglected tropical disease (NTD) mapping efforts in the region. AIM Initiative Program Director Emmy van der Grinten, Technical Advisor Paul Saunderson, and Hope Simpson, a Geographic Information System (GIS) expert, visited Myanmar to attend a Ministry of Health Steering Committee Meeting and work with the team on reviewing and updating data from the Mandalay State. The Steering Committee Meeting showed Myanmar’s leadership in the project. The Director General, the Director of Disease Control, the Deputy Director of Administration and Finance, and the National Leprosy Coordinator all attended, discussing a variety of important targets and goals in Myanmar’s elimination of NTDs. While data collection was initially planned for six hyper-endemic regions, we were pleased to learn that mapping will extend to cover the entire country, ensuring a more complete data set. The initial data include leprosy, … More »

Renewed Energy and Resolve at NTD Summit 2017

We were pleased to attend the NTD Summit 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland, last month, marking the fifth anniversary of the London Declaration on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Dr. Edridah demonstrating how severe a worm infestation can be- 100 worms or more in someone’s abdomen #ntdsummit17 — AIM Initiative (@AIMNTDs) April 18, 2017 AIM Global Director Anna Wickenden and Program Director Emmy van der Grinten joined hundreds of organizations and individuals who are currently leading the fight against NTDs, including several of our partners from American Leprosy Missions, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation and effect:hope. It was especially wonderful to see Mr. Yohei Sasakawa, WHO Goodwill Ambassador on leprosy and a partner of the AIM Initiative, receive a gold medal from Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO, for his great work in service of people affected by leprosy. Of the many inspiring presentations, we’d … More »

New Health Promotion Materials in Liberia

As part of the new, innovative Integrated Case Management of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) program in Liberia, the Ministry of Health is developing creative health promotion materials to help people recognize symptoms of NTDs and encourage them to seek early treatment. The Ministry of Health’s NTD Program and Health Promotion Team are working in partnership and have prioritised the input and feedback of the community in developing these materials. As a result of working in an integrated way across departments, the lessons learned from the recent Ebola outbreak around community engagement and mobilization have been shared and applied to ensure that the health messages are clear and relevant to the people who most need to respond to them. These new materials have been validated by the community and the Ministry of Health, and will now be rolled out nationally with support from the AIM Initiative, decreasing the mystery and stigma … More »

Keys to Success: Partner Collaboration and Buy-In

Earlier this month, AIM Initiative staff worked collaboratively with diverse partners in Mozambique to advance mapping efforts, which is the first step in our innovative approach to increase access to case management services for NTDs. Each country is at a different phase of identifying where NTD case management is greatest, with the goal of putting into place plans for targeting integrated health care services to those communities. “AIM’s approach to bring together – from the outset – country ministries of health, and on-the-ground and international non-governmental partners, is working very well,” said AIM Program Director Dr. Emmy van der Grinten. In particular, National Leprosy Program Coordinator Dr. Francisco Guilengue and Arie de Kruijff, country leader for The Leprosy Mission, co-chaired a meeting with a diverse team in Mozambique to discuss next steps. The team included representatives from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, the National Bureau of Statistics, … More »

NTD Mapping in Nigeria

Last week, Sandra Alba from the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in the Netherlands worked with officials from the Nigerian Ministry of Health to develop data collection tools for mapping NTDs. The goal is to map people affected by leprosy, Buruli ulcer, lymphatic filariasis and trachoma. For the first time, all these diseases will be on one map so health services can be more effectively and efficiently targeted to those most in need.

Connecting A Billion People to Care

The late Dr. Margaret Brand, a pioneering leprosy expert and eye surgeon, and a friend, once shared with me a story from when she took part in a India-wide health campaign to distribute vitamin A. She told me that one day, a young mother came into the outpatient clinic carrying a toddler and a six-month-old baby. The baby, who received sufficient vitamin A through breast-feeding, looked fine. But the toddler showed signs of extreme vitamin A deficiency.  The child’s eyes confirmed the diagnosis. Without vitamin A, the cornea of the eye dries out with no resistance against even mild infection. Ulceration follows, and within a day or two the whole cornea melts. If a child receives vitamin A during the dry stage, followed by a good diet with supplementary vitamin A, this condition generally can be stopped.  If not, the consequences are dire, including loss of sight and possibly of life. … More »