IMA World Health’s first field project targeted River Blindness in Tanzania, and more than 20 years later IMA is recognized as a global leader and innovator for the control and elimination of a variety of neglected tropical diseases. NTDs affect as many as 1 in 6 people worldwide and primarily impact the world’s poor, who commonly contract the diseases through bites from insects, or by ingesting or having contact with contaminated water or soil. More than a half billion children suffer from NTDs each year. IMA specializes in the control and elimination of five of these diseases—lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis or River Blindness, trachoma, schistosomiasis, and soil-transmitted helminthes or worms.
IMA uses a combination of evidenced-based strategies to map and scale-up NTD control in partnership with governments and civil society partners, and through funding from United States government and other donors. IMA has conducted mass drug administration since 2007 in Haiti and 2011 in Tanzania through the ENVISION project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. With leadership from RTI International, IMA trains networks of tens of thousands of volunteers in each country to distribute preventive drugs annually through community distribution posts and schools. IMA focuses on four departments in Haiti and 20 regions across Tanzania. IMA also conducts MDA in one province of the Democratic Republic of Congo through the Access to Primary Health Care Project, funded by UK aid. After years of conducting MDA, IMA’s transmission assessment surveys show that the NTD lymphatic filariasis is declining. To date, 181 of the 197 districts IMA supports in Haiti and Tanzania are no longer endemic for the disease—significant progress toward the goal of eliminating LF globally by 2020.
Haiti and Tanzania/ENVISION NTD Control and Elimination Project: IMA is a partner on the global USAID ENVISION project, led by RTI International, which assists national government NTD control programs to eliminate and control NTDs. In Haiti, IMA partners with the Ministries of Health and Education to combat LF and STH through community- and school-based MDA. In Tanzania, IMA has provided capacity building to the NTD Secretariat to train a network of more than 40,000 community volunteers who provide treatment to more than 14 million people annually.
Advancing the Control and Elimination of NTDs: IMA contributes to the global goals of LF elimination by 2020 through a non-research cooperative agreement with CDC. IMA’s activities include providing transmission assessment survey (TAS) trainings in Ghana and Uganda. It has worked closely with the CDC to lead efforts in contributing to the development of global guidelines for integrated LF TAS surveys through pilot LF TAS, STH, and malaria surveys in Tanzania and Haiti.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Access to Primary Health Care Project: With funding from UK aid, IMA assists the Ministry of Health in 56 health zones to integrate NTD control and elimination within the overall basic health care package, including better planning and implementation of MDA.
Tackling Visceral Leishmaniasis: IMA works with partners to provide emergency response for treatment of visceral leishmaniasis (kala-azar) in Jonglei and Upper Nile states. Kala-azar, which is transmitted by the sandfly, is almost always fatal if not treated. This program improves diagnosis and effective treatment, builds surveillance capacity and improves the ability to respond to outbreaks. To accomplish these goals, IMA trains health workers, establishes emergency response teams, provides pharmaceuticals and supplies and supports the Ministry of Health’s NTD departments.
DFID SAFE NTD Project: Trachoma is the leading cause of infectious blindness around the world. IMA’s work supports the surgical portion of the SAFE program, which is based on World Health Organization’s four-part strategy against trachoma: Surgery, Antibiotics, Facial cleanliness and Environmental improvement. With UK Aid support, IMA provides surgical services and other case management support for trachoma sufferers to help relieve pain, enable them to return to work, and prevent vision loss and blindness. IMA leads implementation in Mtwara region, building district surgical team capacity with the aim to reach nearly 14,000 patients within four years, working closely with project partners HKI, Sightsavers, and KCCO.