Three to four hours. That’s how long one mother was willing to walk to make sure her child attended the annual vaccination and deworming campaign in the village of Coyalito in San Esteban, Honduras.
This past April was my third trip to Honduras in the last 14 months. On my first two trips, I spent the majority of my time running between government offices and meetings – including attending the launch of the Honduras national integrated plan on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Honduras was the first country* in Latin America and the Caribbean region to launch such a plan – which ensures that the country is tackling all diseases at once – versus one at a time.
This time on my return to Honduras, I saw firsthand how that plan was being put into motion.
And I was amazed.
For a country facing severe challenges in security and violence, Honduras is a leader and innovator when it comes to tackling NTDs.
Three government divisions – the Ministries of Health, Education and Social Development are working together to reach people in even the most remote parts of the country. They’ve taken charge by developing working groups to tackle issues and problems they notice when bringing the programs to the community.
They’re enthusiastic. They’re driven. And I’m quite positive that they’re going to succeed.
I know this because I traveled over six hours with the Ministry of Health over unpaved and rocky roadways on their visits to various districts. Distribution was carefully arranged: a health worker used a loud megaphone to call out to members of the community to invite them to visit the vaccine and deworming campaign. From there, mothers would bring their young children to receive essential vaccines and deworming medicine.
A nurse practitioner told me that bundling healthcare delivery– such as vaccination and deworming – often encourages more families to come. Most parents know about these diseases, especially the intestinal worms. In Honduras, and many other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, there’s a common belief that if children grind their teeth at night, they have parasites. There is a demand for deworming, and mothers came armed with their child’s immunization card and found a space to account for their child’s annual deworming treatment.
The Honduran ministries are also thinking beyond treatment for NTDs to a more comprehensive approach. These diseases are often spread due to lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation, which is a reality for some of the families in villages like Coyalito. As a result, the ministries are pushing to incorporate water filters in schools, and other sanitation initiatives which will propel these treatment programs toward long-term success.
At the end of the day, I joined the health team in brief survey to determine attendance of the campaign. We walked around each “manzana” – or block – to knock on people’s homes and ask them if children were dewormed and vaccinated. Health workers talked to them about why it’s important to attend these campaigns and have their children treated.
Among advocacy organizations, it seems that we often divvy up health issues, as if family planning, treatment for NTDs and vaccination are all independent projects. But, the reality is that often, at the point-of-care level, everything is bundled together. It’s very effective.
Our partners in Honduras want to expand this successful initiative to help many more families. END7 is asking supporters to help fill a funding gap to make sure this medicine reaches Honduran children in 20,061 schools. With your help we can reach 1.4 million school children and protect them harmful parasitic worms, including roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm.
*In March 2013, Brazil launched their integrated national plan, and currently several other countries have draft plans in development.
Were at the beginning of something big.
Not many people know about neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) a group of parasitic infections that cause needless suffering among more than 1 billion of the poorest people worldwide. 7 of the most common NTDs by 2020. All it costs is 50¢ to treat and protect one person for one year.
Join us in our mission to end 7 diseases by 2020 watch our mission in (just over) a minute below and Like us on Facebook. Together we can see the end!
In his Share Our Strength. Below, Sean describes the night of the event in detail and how he was pleasantly surprised by the support that the student body expressed:
By: Sean Donegan
The night of the Inaugural Share Our Strength Charity Dinner has arrived! At 7 pm the doors opened and a about 300 Cornell students came in to support us. Before the event began, each of the seven Philanthropy Chairs arrived with their chef’s meal so all food could be safely stored and kept at the proper temperature. By having each Chapter’s representative in the same place, we were also able to coordinate transportation easily.
The Charity Dinner itself sold 345 tickets, bringing in roughly 300 attendees to Alpha Gamma Rho on the night of the dinner. Over 50 people bought tickets to support us even though they had an exam, sporting event, or other prior engagement that evening. No President or Philanthropy Chair mandated that any of their members buy a ticket or even attend the event; everyone that came did it on a voluntary basis. We were surprised by the sheer number of students and Greek Chapters who bought tickets simply to support our activities as well as Share Our Strength and its campaign to fight childhood hunger.
To allow people to carpool and park for free, the Brothers of Alpha Gamma Rho cleared our parking lot to make as many spaces available as possible. In addition to this, many students elected to take taxis to and from the event so more parking spaces would be available to the other guests. Everyone immediately sat down to reserve their seat but due to the excitement in the air, many people eventually got up to catch up with friends and socialize. Probably the only delay in the night’s festivities was getting everyone to break away from their shuffling from group to group and taking their seat for dinner. Continue reading
In his Share Our Strength. In the blogpost below, Sean goes into detail about the logistics of organizing such an event so that other like-minded college students who wish to do the same will have an idea of where to begin: By: Sean Donegan
It’s the night of the event so I will be discreetly ducking out of class early to set my Fraternity House up for the Greg Monte.
Each Greek House has taken over the responsibility of one seventh of the ticket sales. This entails allowing their Brothers and Sisters to sign up for the event and then billing them at the end of the semester when they are paying for their room and board. With a group of experienced and dedicated Philanthropy Chairs working with me, I am proud to announce we were able to sell out in only two weeks. I was surprised to learn that many people had bought tickets to support their Fraternity/Sorority and the cause even though they may not be able to attend. Currently we have sold 345 tickets with an estimated 303 attending the actual event which has seating for only 300. If we go over, extra chairs are on reserve to be set up. Continue reading