30th January 2020, was Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) day. It was a world first, marking seven years since partners came together across sectors and countries in the 2012 London Declaration to push for investment and action.


What are neglected tropical diseases, and what is IHP doing to help?

NTDs comprise a group of parasitic and bacterial diseases that put at risk the health of more than 1.5 billion people living in some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised communities. These diseases don’t generally cause death, but they blight many lives, giving rise to blindness, disability and disfigurement, and depriving children and adults of the chance of normal life. 

NTDs threaten more than 1.5 billion people living in the poorest and most marginalised communities worldwide.

In 2020, International Health Partners will explore new opportunities to help prevent the suffering caused by these diseases. We want to help eradicate or significantly reduce the burden of these diseases in the communities we serve. To do this, we’ll work to lessen the spread of disease and help people to overcome the challenges created by NTDs.

Initially, we will focus on opportunities to work with partners in two countries in Africa: Zambia and Kenya. In Zambia, we are looking to work in the North-Western Province to help 6,000 children living in four village areas, attending (between them) 26 schools. This work will focus on illness and health risks arising from schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminths. In the south of Kenya, we’ll work with younger children (aged five and under) in Kajiado to protect against disease caused by soil-transmitted helminths.

Taking these opportunities to engage will allow us to increase our impact in addressing NTDs. We are currently scoping need, thinking about programmes, looking to engage other stakeholders, and raising funds.


What are soil-transmitted helminths? 

Also known as intestinal or parasitic worms, soil-transmitted helminths include roundworm, whipworm and hookworm. Infections can be picked up when an individual comes into contact with soil contaminated by parasite eggs. A recent study found 869 million children at risk of contracting these worms.

Intestinal worms reduce the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins, and this can exacerbate malnutrition, lead to anaemia, and increase susceptibility to other infectious diseases. In children, these worms can impair growth and intellectual development. As the number and size of parasites increase in the gut, a person’s symptoms of disease – such as nausea, abdominal pain and weight loss – will become more evident. 


What has IHP done to help already? 

In the past few years, the donations we have sent have helped to relieve suffering from NTDs. Our Essential Health Packs contain anti-parasitic treatments used to combat these diseases. 

In 2019, we sent more than 200 packs out globally.

The Yellowmen of Kadongdong, a group from Sussex whose members travel to Kenya’s Pokot region each year to offer medical services, take our packs on a frequent basis. Over the years they have used the contents to treat conditions including intestinal worms (soil-transmitted helminths). “The arrival of the medicines at the hospital is always accompanied by great excitement,” says Dr Eddie McCall, the group’s coordinator. Other packs went to Nigeria, where Dr Olukoya, of the Otunba Olumayowa Olukoya Foundation, told us how these too enabled children to receive treatment to eradicate soil-transmitted helminths from their systems.

At the Ellel Medical Centre in Burkina Faso, Dr Kabore told us how the contents of an Essential Health Pack were used to safeguard a woman who had recently given birth. “We spoke to Amina as she attended her post-natal consultation with the midwife. As part of her consultation, Amina and her children, Franck and Eric, each received a three-day treatment of mebendazole, which will protect them from parasitic worms. This treatment would usually cost £6, an unaffordable price for Amina and her children. She was able to receive her medication for free from the Essential Health Pack.” Another patient at Ellel was Florence, who brought in her mother and daughter. Our pack carrier reported: “Dr Kabore was able to give Florence [treatment for parasitic worm infection] from the pack and teach the significance of taking precautionary measures,” our pack carrier reported.

In 2018, we shipped nearly 150,000 treatments to Somalia, where drought, flooding and long-term armed conflict have contributed to leaving more than two million people internally displaced. Some treatments, such as mebendazole, were given to help people suffering from NTDs.



What’s next? 

Since 2012, 31 countries have eliminated at least one neglected tropical disease. In 2020, the World Health Organization will launch new goals to guide progress in this area

At International Health Partners we will continue to capitalise on strategic opportunities and maximise our impact, working to alleviate the suffering that NTDs cause.



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