AIM grew out of an innovative disease mapping breakthrough that was initiated by American Leprosy Missions in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine as well as the Ministry of Health in Ghana. Using routine surveillance data of existing cases and morbidity, AIM partners with Ministries of Health, NGOs and others to map cases of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), enabling more accurately targeted delivery of health services.
AIM combines this innovative mapping method with support for integrated strategic planning and highly targeted case management that helps to better identify at-risk groups, reduce disability, and improve disease control. Our approach is designed to increase access to health services for people living with an NTD, enable disease elimination and increase early detection through combined NTD programs for case management.
AIM is a collaboration that brings together diverse partners including endemic country governments, research institutions, private sector, donors, and non-government organizations to accelerate integrated management of NTDs.
The AIM Initiative is a program of American Leprosy Missions.
The AIM Initiative Team
Dr. Julien Ake
Interim Global Director
Julien Ake received his medical degree from the Medical School of the University of Côte d’Ivoire. He began his professional career in 1996, and has accumulated 20 years of outstanding experience at all levels of the health system. This includes serving at the very peripheral level of the community, to serving at top leadership level of health policies development within the health system of his home country, Côte d’Ivoire. He served as vice president for global programs while at MAP International from 2012 to 2016, an American-based organization working in international health development.
Julien joined effect:hope Canada in October 2016 in the position of senior technical advisor supporting the implementation of the Every Child Thrives project and the strategic development of the organization in neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Beginning in November 2018, he also supports the implementation of the AIM Initiative as interim global director.
Among many achievements, Julien’s work is internationally recognized for its contribution to the eradication of Guinea Worm in Côte d’Ivoire and the development of health systems strengthening and integration strategies of leprosy, Buruli ulcer and other NTDs within the health systems in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya and Liberia.
Tiawanlyn Gongloe G. Akpan
Tiawanlyn Gongloe G. Akpan is the project officer responsible for supporting country teams and partners in implementing countries. Tiawanlyn earned a dual Masters in Public Health and Applied Health Sciences from Indiana University-Bloomington. Since completing her education four years ago, she has worked in Liberia providing technical support to the Ministry of Health, first as a technical advisor to the Montserrado County Ebola Response Team and later as a technical advisor to the NTDs program. Tiawanlyn supported the NTDs program team in Liberia during the development of the first CM NTDS strategic plan that is currently being implemented.
Dr. Shyamala Anand
Ocular NTD Advisor
Shyamala Anand holds a Master’s degree in ophthalmology and has more than 25 years of experience in ophthalmology and clinical leprosy in resource-constrained settings, mainly among the rural poor and tribal populations in central India. She has medical and surgical expertise in ocular diseases, especially neglected tropical diseases like leprosy and trachoma, and has trained and mentored many young doctors, ophthalmologists, nurses and paramedical staff. Shyamala has performed over 20,000 ophthalmic surgeries under challenging circumstances yet with excellent results, in various states in India and also in other countries like Bhutan, China, Uzbekistan and Nigeria. She has experience in successfully establishing high-quality, low-cost, hospital-based ophthalmic services with promotive, preventive and curative ophthalmology outreach services to remote and needy villages. Her research on cataract surgery in 1,024 leprosy-affected eyes has been published in the Leprosy Review. Her expertise is grounded in extensive, hands-on experience, in context, complementing her professional training. In her current role as Regional Program Development Officer for American Leprosy Missions in Asia, she continues to provide eye care to underprivileged groups through weekly ophthalmic clinics at a charitable urban primary healthcare facility in her home city of Hyderabad, India.
Patrick Atikpo Mawulolo
Finance and Program Officer
As finance and program officer, Patrick is responsible for managing and directing finances and accounting, including budget development and tracking, reporting and analysis, contracts and grants, and taxation. In addition, he supports programs and the development of financial and operational guidelines and reporting formats for the country projects.
Patrick joined the AIM team with six years of experience in accounting, finance and office administration, including the financial management of sub awards. For five years Patrick ensured the successful implementation of the annual work plan budgets of the End in Africa Project in Ghana through the Ghana NTD Program (of the Ghana Health Service).
Patrick holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies from Wisconsin International University College, Ghana and a Higher National Diploma Certificate in Accounting from Koforidua Polytechnic (Koforidua Technical University), Ghana. He is currently an MBA candidate in Accounting and Finance at the University of Professional Studies in Accra, Ghana.
Monitoring and Evaluation Manager
Solomon is a seasoned monitoring and evaluation expert who comes to AIM Initiative with experience in research, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development projects focusing on malaria, maternal and child health, and adolescent reproductive health in Africa. Much of this work has addressed issues of behavioral change and supporting health institutions (Ghana Health Service and faith-based institutions) using quality improvement tools and methods to increase effectiveness.
Prior to joining AIM, Solomon worked with PATH, University Research Company and two local NGOs in which he helped deliver project outcomes according the reporting needs of the organizations. He has also facilitated quality improvement training in Ethiopia and Ghana for mentors/coaches, and built capacity and mentoring skills of JSI Universal Immunization by training Family Health Services staff and key partners in quality improvement methodologies.
Solomon holds a Masters of Research degree in Health Geography from the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom. He also earned certificates as an Improvement Advisor from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, USA, PMD Pro level 1, Monitoring and Evaluation from MDF West Africa, and Research Methods Course in Sexual & Reproductive Health and HIV, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. He is also a faculty member at Ubora Institute in Ghana.
Data, Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor
Prior to joining American Leprosy Missions and the AIM Initiative, Melissa worked with various global health and economic development projects in west and east Africa, supporting monitoring and evaluation methods and systems development to show impact and inform program improvement. Melissa served as a program manager during the Ebola outbreak in Liberia helping to strengthen community prevention measures. She later worked as a research fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to build countries’ local capacity to prevent and respond to public health outbreaks. Passionate about capacity building and effective collaboration, Melissa uses data creatively to tell stories, especially in complex environments.
Melissa completed her B.S. in Nutrition and Master of Public Health at the University of Tennessee. She is also currently completing a master’s in applied analytics at St. Louis University.
Dr. Paul Saunderson
Paul Saunderson is a British doctor, having qualified in medicine at Cambridge University, England in 1976. In 2000, after almost 20 years in Africa working in leprosy and tuberculosis control in both Uganda and Ethiopia, Paul was appointed as medical director of American Leprosy Missions, where he continues to work.
In 2004, Paul was awarded a doctorate degree from Cambridge, for earlier research on nerve damage in leprosy, carried out in Ethiopia. A central component of his work with American Leprosy Missions is to coordinate support for research, in particular the development of a new vaccine for leprosy. Since 2000, he has also been very involved with both the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations and the World Health Organization in an advisory capacity, as well as authoring a number of training manuals for field staff which are still widely used. With over 60 peer-reviewed publications to his credit, in 2013, Paul took on the role of editor of Leprosy Review, the only international scientific journal devoted specifically to leprosy research.
Anna serves as the global director of AIM, helping to advance the initiative by developing and sustaining strategic partnerships, securing funding and leading operations. Anna has the primary responsibility for AIM’s global mapping and disease management efforts and programs. In addition, she works to expand AIM’s reach through advocacy, presentations, publications, and technical input.
Anna has been working in the field of health, disability, and inclusive development since 2003, initially working with children and young people with disabilities in community-based programs in the UK, East Africa and North America. Anna has extensive experience in program management, resource mobilization, and advocacy. Most recently, Anna served as the director of international programs at effect:hope. She has championed the incorporation of participatory practices, integrated programming, and inclusive approaches in all aspects of effect:hope’s global programs. Anna has led the development of an organizational theory of change at effect:hope and an engagement strategy which has inclusion and integration as core approaches. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Development and a masters’ degree in Gender and International Development from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex and is passionate about the opportunities that cross-sectoral collaboration provides for addressing issues and challenges that have previously been intractable within the global health and development field.
Vice President of Special Initiatives
Stefanie has a vision to help all people have access to quality health care. Expanding the AIM Initiative and leading American Leprosy Missions’ work to pioneer new systems and approaches to improve care and access for neglected people in the hardest places is her chief creative and mental occupation.
Stefanie has significant experience in international development and global health, progressing to leadership in several roles, working across Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. Prior to joining the AIM Initiative, a program of American Leprosy Missions, Stefanie led LifeNet International, a social enterprise focused on improving the quality and sustainability of health care in Africa, managing a global team and scaling impact from 10 clinics in one country to 130 clinics in four countries.
She received her Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and her Master of Science in Development Studies from The London School of Economics. Stefanie has also studied at the U.S. Air Force Academy and received a certificate in development management from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Health from The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Stefanie speaks French and Japanese. She currently lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and two small children, where she enjoys running along the Potomac River.
AIM consists of a number of organizations who are working together to map NTDs and increase access to health services for people affected by neglected tropical diseases.