IMA World Health/Ann Varghese

Recently, IMA was recognized at a series of meetings and events for our ongoing efforts to combat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in both Haiti and Tanzania. An estimated one billion people globally are affected by one or more NTDs, which cause chronic suffering, disability, compromised mental and physical development, and social stigma. NTDs hinder progress to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by disproportionally affecting poor and rural populations that lack access to clean water, sanitation and essential medicines. As a recognized leader of successful NTD programs for almost two decades, IMA’s portfolio has grown to manage integrated Mass Drug Administration (MDA) implementation and to support morbidity management efforts in multiple countries.

The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH), held its annual meeting late last year in Atlanta, Ga., where three IMA staff members presented on IMA’s unique approaches to combating NTDs. The ASTMH, founded in 1903, is a worldwide organization of scientists, clinicians and program professionals whose mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor. At the ASTMH Annual Meeting, Dr. Abdel Direny (IMA Haiti) presented a poster entitledThe role of public-private partnerships in increasing the impact of Neglected Tropical Disease control in Haitian schools,” which focused on the benefit of adding shoe donation for the prevention of hookworm to the NTD program in Haiti. Dr. Deogratias Damas (IMA Tanzania) presented a poster on Improving Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) control outcomes through north-south global health partnerships,” and Dr. Andreas Nshala (IMA Tanzania) presented on The benefits of using mobile phones in monitoring health interventions: The perspective from the Neglected Tropical Diseases Control Program in Tanzania.”

Following the Atlanta meeting, many in the NTD community traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in two additional global meetings focused on NTDs. The World Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation hosted more than 300 participants in a meeting to follow up on many global commitments that were made for NTDs last January at the historic London Declaration meeting. Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases: Translating the London Declaration into Action” was held Nov. 16 through 18, with the purpose to turn the London Declaration into actions to build upon pledges that were made, to identify concrete steps needed to make the 2020 goals a reality and to explore opportunities for synergy and greater efficiency. Several breakout sessions were held and IMA Senior Program Officer Ann Varghese co-facilitated a session focused on morbidity management and health systems, looking specifically at examples of trachoma, LF and other diseases. IMA is not only committed to prevention of NTDs, but also on a patient-focused approach to alleviate suffering for those already infected with NTDs.

The seventh international meeting of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GAELF) was held la last year at the World Bank. The focus was A Future Free of Lymphatic Filariasis: Reaching the vision by scaling-up, scaling down and reaching out.”  The mission of the GAELF is to bring together a diverse group of public-private health partners to support the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis by mobilizing political, financial and technical resources to ensure success. The Haiti NTD Control program was highlighted in a panel discussion on “Highlighting Success in Scaling Up” and Dr. Abdel Direny (IMA Haiti) shared the successes and challenges the country program has faced. Morbidity strategies were again emphasized in a panel discussion moderated by Ann Varghese, looking at country experiences in Togo and India and innovations in research and hydrocele surgery.

IMA World Health values the partnerships with host country governments, pharmaceutical companies, donors and partners to support and implement programs focused on MDA and morbidity management. We welcome the opportunity to explore new partnerships, and Ann Varghese can answer any questions at annvarghese@imaworldhealth.org.