An Alliance of Georgia’s Global Health Organizations Could Help Address the Emerging Crisis of Noncommunicable Diseases

Mark Rosenberg, president and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health

Mark Rosenberg, president and CEO of The Task Force for Global Health

By Mark Rosenberg

Much progress has been made in recent decades in reducing deaths from infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis. But around the world in countries of all income levels, there is a smoldering epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) that threaten to lower life expectancies and undermine social and economic development. In 2012, NCDs such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and respiratory diseases accounted for 68 percent of the world’s deaths. By 2030, NCDs are expected to become the most common causes of deaths globally, with most of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

Despite the statistics that NCDs are reaching crisis proportions, the issue has not yet attracted very much attention from governments, the private sector, or civil society. The U.S. government, for example, currently spends 2,000 times more foreign aid dollars each year on HIV/AIDS than it does on NCDs. Continued low investment in NCDs will have significant consequences for global health and the global economy. NCDs saddle individuals, families, communities, and countries with costly healthcare costs and afflict needless suffering. They are also barriers to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. A 2011 estimate by the World Economic Forum projected that the five leading NCDs will cost the global economy a staggering $47 trillion over the next 20 years, which will divert scare resources that could be better invested in education and other development programs.

Complex social, economic, and environmental factors drive NCDs. Growing income of the developing world, for example, has provided more people with access to tobacco and unhealthy processed foods, raising the risks for respiratory diseases, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The cruel irony of NCDs, however, is that they can actually worsen poverty by burdening people with diseases that are costly to treat, reduce their productivity, and shorten their life expectancies. NCDs often develop over many years as a result of poor diet, physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, and other modifiable risk factors. Comprehensive approaches to addressing NCDs will be needed that cover the spectrum from prevention to treatment, and engage all sectors of society.

More people in the developing world are smoking, which is contributing to the rising global prevalence of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and respiratory diseases.

More people in the developing world are smoking, which is contributing to the rising global prevalence of noncommunicable diseases such as cancer and respiratory diseases.

The sheer scale of the NCD issue also means collaborations will be absolutely critical. In 2012, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution outlining steps that need to be taken to prevent and control NCDs globally. The resolution urged “international cooperation, including collaborative partnerships” and called on “non-health actors and key stakeholders to promote health and to reduce NCD risk factors.” It highlighted the need for “alliances and networks that bring together national, regional, and global actors, including academic and research institutes, for the development of new medicines, vaccines, diagnostics and technologies, learning from the experiences in the field of HIV/AIDS, among others.”

Several of Georgia’s global health organizations are already working and collaborating to address NCDs through programs that focus on prevention, research, and advocacy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with the Pan American Health Organization and Atlanta-based American Cancer Society to prevent cervical cancer through screening programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. CDC is also focusing on the growing issue of uncontrolled hypertension in low- and middle-income countries, which is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Through the Global Standardized Hypertension Treatment Project, CDC is drawing on its experiences from the mass scale-up of HIV and tuberculosis treatment to provide more people in the developing world with access to hypertension treatment. The Emory Global Diabetes Research Center is working to understand the causes and consequences of diabetes, strokes, hypertension, and heart disease, investigate prevention methods, and inform policies related to NCDs. Most recently, the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University partnered with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the Public Health Foundation of India, to build India’s capacity to prevent and control NCDs.

Any global health effort to address NCDs will require a comprehensive strategy that includes prevention as a cornerstone. In the United States alone, smoking cessation and other prevention measures could reduce annual cancer deaths by half. Vaccines are a powerful tool for preventing cancers caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B. The widespread availability of HPV vaccine is expected to significantly reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer in high-income countries, but this vaccine has been priced out of reach for most developing countries. One of the exceptions is Rwanda, which has demonstrated the potential for even low-income counties to undertake successful NCD prevention initiatives. Using an existing robust vaccination system and a donation of two million doses of HPV vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Merck, Rwanda successfully rolled out HPV vaccine nationwide in 2011. An estimated 95% of eligible girls received the vaccine during the country’s first vaccination campaign.

In mounting this unprecedented prevention effort, Rwanda recognized that cervical cancer, which is the most common cancer among women in the country, and other NCDs threaten its economic development and poverty reduction goals. Other low- and middle-income countries could develop similar immunization programs with adequate resources and support from donors and the global health community. The Decatur-based Task Force for Global Health is exploring how its strength in working with pharmaceutical companies and other governmental and civil society partners to deliver donated vaccines and medicines to the developing world could be useful in developing large-scale prevention programs for cervical and liver cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other NCDs. The expertise and capacity of other Georgia global health organizations could be extremely beneficial to the development of large-scale NCD prevention and control programs.

NCDs threaten to erode the major health gains that have been made in recent years in countries around the world. Durable alliances of many partners are needed to sustain the efforts that will be needed to address NCDs. Many of Georgia’s global health organizations are already working on NCDs and could leverage their expertise and resources to affect the issue both globally and locally through an alliance. NCDs will necessarily become a greater focus of the global health community in the coming decades if the issue continues to grow unabated. But there is great urgency now to address NCDs – and alliances must be part of the solution. I look forward with great optimism to supporting Georgia’s global health organizations in working together to address NCDs and other large-scale global health issues through a Georgia Global Health Alliance.

– Co-authored by Poul E. Olson

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Tobacco Use Epidemic Places Heavy Burden on Low- and Middle-Income Countries

By Brandon Talley

 Talley is associate vice president for programs, Tobacco Control at the CDC Foundatio

Talley is associate vice president for programs, Tobacco Control at the CDC Foundation

Infectious and chronic diseases take a tremendous toll on the world’s population, but none takes a greater one than tobacco use, which represents the leading cause of death and disease. More than 100 million people lost their lives to tobacco use in the 20th century, and if current smoking patterns continue, tobacco-related deaths will reach around 1 billion in the 21st century, according to The Tobacco Atlas. But the devastating global effects of tobacco use are highly preventable by implementing scientifically proven interventions.

Some intervention options include the implementation of smoke-free environments; providing help and support to quit smoking; graphic warning labels on tobacco products; enforcing bans on advertising, promotion and sponsorship of tobacco; and raising taxes on tobacco products. But to implement and measure effective interventions, countries need robust tobacco use data. With this information, countries can measure the extent of the tobacco epidemic as well as the actual impact of any intervention.

A Field Interviewer contracted to carry out the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in Malaysia shows off one of the 75 hand held electronic data recorders provided to the survey team by the World Health Organization. Five of the units are held in reserve as back ups in case of any problems during the eight week survey, which is also supported by the CDC Foundation.

A Field Interviewer contracted to carry out the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in Malaysia shows off one of the 75 hand held electronic data recorders provided to the survey team by the World Health Organization. Five of the units are held in reserve as back ups in case of any problems during the eight week survey, which is also supported by the CDC Foundation.

To help curb the tobacco epidemic and systematically monitor global tobacco use prevalence and track tobacco control indicators, the CDC Foundation has partnered for eight years with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and other national and international partners to support implementation of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS). GATS, which is supported in part by the Bloomberg Initiative to Reduce Tobacco Use and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a nationally representative household survey of adults 15 years of age or older.

The survey has been completed in 28 countries, with two countries having conducted repeat surveys. The data collected through GATS covers over 3.6 billion adults—more than 68 percent of the world’s adult smokers. Plans are underway to repeat GATS in 11 countries over the next two years. The data generated will be used to evaluate tobacco control interventions and measure tobacco control progress in low- and middle-income countries where the health-related and economic burden of tobacco use is particularly heavy.

Respondents take part in a survey conducted by the Info Survey Group, contracted as part of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) with support from the CDC Foundation. Launched in Malaysia in 2010, the survey is helping the Institute for Public Health compile data on adult tobacco use habits that can ultimately be used by the Ministry of Health to combat tobacco usage.

Respondents take part in a survey conducted by the Info Survey Group, contracted as part of the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) with support from the CDC Foundation. Launched in Malaysia in 2010, the survey is helping the Institute for Public Health compile data on adult tobacco use habits that can ultimately be used by the Ministry of Health to combat tobacco usage.

Additionally, over the next three years, GATS will be implemented in three additional countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Compared to many other regions, tobacco use in sub-Saharan Africa remains relatively low, but according to WHO, consumption in the region is rising as tobacco companies are globally targeting underdeveloped markets. The implementation of GATS in sub-Saharan Africa provides a unique opportunity to curb tobacco use in the region by enhancing tobacco control and surveillance capacity there.

Monitoring the tobacco epidemic through the implementation of GATS represents a critical component of a comprehensive tobacco control program. Data collected through GATS provides stakeholders with scientific information to overcome challenges in developing, implementing and evaluating effective national tobacco control policies and programs. At the CDC Foundation, we are pleased to have a role in helping to facilitate this vital work.

Ahidah Binti Mohammed Din (right), a Field Supervisor for the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in Malaysia, speaks with other GATS survey team members while conducting interviews in the community of Behrang in the Perak state of Malaysia. The GATS teams members often work long and irregular hours to carry out the comprehensive tobacco survey.

Ahidah Binti Mohammed Din (right), a Field Supervisor for the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) in Malaysia, speaks with other GATS survey team members while conducting interviews in the community of Behrang in the Perak state of Malaysia. The GATS teams members often work long and irregular hours to carry out the comprehensive tobacco survey.

Talley is associate vice president for programs, Tobacco Control at the CDC Foundation

 Photos © David Snyder/CDC Foundation

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Nepal Earthquake: United in tragedy

By Holly Frew, CARE’s Emergency Communications Officer based in Atlanta (except when deployed to an emergency.)

It is hard to fathom that in a matter of seconds, an entire village could be turned into a heap of rubble. But that’s exactly what happened in Baruwa, a village in Nepal.

Holly Frew, CARE’s Emergency Communications Officer

Holly Frew, CARE’s Emergency Communications Officer

Like many of these remote villages, access to Baruwa has been cut off by landslides from the earthquake. The only way to get in is by helicopter or foot, so our team drove as far as we could by car, and then hiked the remaining 6 miles to Baruwa where we camped overnight to make plans to help this village.

As we made the three-hour trek in the heat of the day, I did not realize the level of needs and destruction that lay ahead of us, but I had an idea after we hiked over a treacherous landslide. The higher we hiked, the higher the level of damage seemed to get.

We finally arrived in Baruwa exhausted to find a village sprinkled with piles of rubble and makeshift tents. We learned that in the entire village district around 500 houses, and 1000 buildings, including shops, schools, health clinics and barns were completely destroyed. The number of buildings still standing? Maybe five total.

CARE emergency supplies arrive by truck from India to Nepal. Credit: CARE

CARE emergency supplies arrive by truck from India to Nepal. Credit: CARE

As we explored the village, there were people working together everywhere trying to salvage whatever they could from the rubble and debris. One of their biggest concerns was food.  So many people lost their food when their houses came down, and with monsoon season coming, they have no shelter to house their upcoming wheat harvest. I saw people sifting through bags of millet seeds that they had pulled from their damaged homes tediously trying to separate the millet seeds from the dirt and sand, so they could have more food to eat.

The people of Baruwa have lost everything, but as we stepped into their lives, a beautiful sight began to emerge. They have united like one big family supporting each other through this tragedy. They are grieving together, cooking and eating together, pooling whatever assets they have left together and living together.

As an aid worker, I don’t usually cry when responding to an emergency. There is so much work to be done in such a rapid pace that emotions take a backseat, and there is often a level of disconnect due to language barriers that keeps emotions intact. But then I met 19-year-old Pasang who broke those emotional barriers. She lost her home and her entire family in the earthquake. The remaining closest family member is her sister-in-law. She is seemingly all alone, but the people in the village have taken her in as family.

Every night Pasang holds a Buddhist puja on the mound of rubble that used to be her home and she lights candles to honor her dead family members. A puja is an act of worship to a god or higher power. Outside the collapsed monastery, a community puja is held where everyone in the village worships and prays to honor those who died and those impacted by the earthquake.

Just two weeks after the earthquake, people are still grieving their deep losses here and simply trying to salvage what’s left of their homes. Thoughts and plans of how to rebuild are not really on their minds, but their need for food and stronger shelter are, as they are terrified of the approaching monsoon season.

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A Long-Term Need: Nepal Earthquake Relief

By Kipp Branch, Senior Medicines Officer, MAP International

Kipp Branch, Senior Medicines Officer, MAP International

Kipp Branch, Senior Medicines Officer, MAP International

Most of the world is aware that just a little over a week ago a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, killing an estimated 7,000 people and potentially wounding tens of thousands more.

MAP International and many other NGO’s immediately responded to the critical need of the Nepalese people by providing medical aid, food, shelter and clean water.

Nine days out, the search-and-rescue efforts are near complete with a handful of very lucky people still being pulled from the rubble.  NDRF, India’s National Disaster Response Force, which had the largest presence on the ground, has now pulled out of Nepal.  Now we move into the recovery and rehabilitation phase.

Communities have to be rebuilt, health care infrastructure is pushed beyond capacity, food and water needs are ongoing.  The NGO community and world will be in Nepal to assist the Nepalese people for quite some time.  Nepal faces a tough long term recovery as the country continues to dig out in the wake of this natural disaster.  The UN estimates that roughly 8 million people were affected by this disaster.

Patients being treated in Nepal following the earthquake.  Photograph: International Medical Corps

Patients being treated in Nepal following the earthquake. Photograph: International Medical Corps

There’s a tendency to think that since the search-and-rescue efforts are coming to a close that relief efforts will slow, but the reality is that now the recovery begins.  Now we try and ensure that proper medicines and supplies are on the ground to help the medical teams dealing with the wounded and other medical issues that arise for natural disasters, prevention of cholera and other outbreaks are essential.

To meet the anticipated long-term need in Nepal, MAP is airlifting in 5 IEHK’s (Interagency Emergency Health Kits) that will treat 50,000 people for 90 days and is preparing 20ft shipping containers filled with essential medicines and supplies that will aid in long-term relief efforts.

The Facts:

  • 7.8 magnitude earthquake
  • Nearly 6,000 reported dead
  • Over 11,000 reported wounded
  • Airport has severe damage and logistics are difficult

MAP’s Response:

  • 30 MAP Medical Mission Packs, worth $330,000 arrived in Nepal with ACTS World Relief on Wednesday.  They can treat 6,000+ people.
  • An IEHK (Interagency Emergency Health Kit) is currently in route to Nepal for International Medical Corps.  It will land on Friday and will treat 10,000 people for 90 days.
  • 3 additional IEHK’s are being prepared now and will head to Nepal in the coming days.
  • 6 pallets of oral rehydration salts are being airlifted in to combat dehydration.
  • Multiple container shipments are being prepared with antibiotics and other essential relief items for long term recovery.
  • MAP’s current medicines on the ground are being used at Sheer Adventist Hospital and Mobile Medical Clinics near the epicenter.
MAP medicines arrived in Nepal with ACTS World Relief on Wednesday following the quake.

MAP medicines arrived in Nepal with ACTS World Relief on Wednesday following the quake.

MAP International works through our valued partners on the ground, like International Medical Corps, ACTS World Relief, Convoy of Hope and many others to ensure that our medicines reach those in most need through trusted medical professionals.  In relief situations like this, working together is key in ensuring a rapid response.

We urge you to join with us in the recovery efforts in Nepal either by donating to MAP International or one of our trusted partners listed on CNN’s Giving List.

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Improving Health Data to Improve Health Outcomes in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

By Cho-Yau Ling

Cho-Yau Ling, senior program officer at the CDC Foundation

Cho-Yau Ling, senior program officer at the CDC Foundation

Each year, more than 50 million people die around the globe and for many, the actual cause of death is never recorded. That fact alone is quite troubling, but a critical carry-on issue is that not knowing the cause of death presents a major obstacle in developing data-driven policies that can improve public health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries.

Last month, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Australian government announced a new Data for Health initiative that will assist 20 low- and middle-income countries across Latin America, Asia and Africa in strengthening their public health data systems and use of data for critical policy-making decisions. This innovative $100 million effort is aimed at solving the world’s most pressing public health problems using technology and data to help fill major gaps in global health. Bloomberg Philanthropies describes the initiative as seeking to provide governments, aid organizations, and public health leaders with tools and systems to better collect data—and use it to prioritize health challenges, develop policies, deploy resources, and measure success.

The CDC Foundation is honored to partner with Bloomberg Philanthropies in one aspect of the initiative. In this work, the CDC Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), will support dedicated government staff in-country to strengthen birth and death registration systems and improve information on cause of death. In addition, this partnership will support and convene experts to create the best-in-class mobile phone risk factor surveys for noncommunicable diseases. Finally, the partnership will help in-country, CDC-supported Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP) residents and National Public Health Institute staff improve capacity in Ministries of Health to use health data to inform policy development.

We are grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the Australian government, for funding this initiative that will gather vital health data, target resources and save lives. More than 1.2 billion people will be impacted by this project, living in countries with improved capacity to use data to inform critical public health decisions.

Ling is a senior program officer with the CDC Foundation

New Data for Health initiative will assist low- and middle-income countries in strengthening data collection for addressing public health challenges.

New Data for Health initiative will assist low- and middle-income countries in strengthening data collection for addressing public health challenges.

 

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Idyllic? Maybe. Resilient? Definitely. From the Front Lines of Cyclone Pam

By Tom Perry, CARE.

Tom Perry works in emergency communications for aid organization CARE

Tom Perry works in emergency communications for aid organization CARE

When people talk about the South Pacific and countries like Vanuatu, they often use words like ‘idyllic’, ‘relaxed’ or ‘peaceful’. And yes, there are plenty of parts of the South Pacific that fit those descriptions.  Yet Cyclone Pam, the worst natural disaster to hit the region in recorded history last month, has, for at least a little while, changed the world’s image of the country. Images of lush green islands and cozy lagoons, usually in the newspaper’s Travel section, have been replaced by photos of homes that have been flattened.

But for those who know the Pacific, it’s far more complex than the postcards would suggest. Getting from one part of a country like Vanuatu to another can take weeks. Boats are completely unreliable and dangerous. Gas – the lifeblood of travel in the Pacific – is extraordinarily expensive, and plane flights are reserved for the lucky few that can afford them. This makes getting to everyday essentials – clean water, markets to buy and sell food, schools or medical clinics – a huge task.

Yet people of Vanuatu are adaptable, tough and fiercely proud of their way of life. They’ve used the knowledge of their ancestors to grow, cultivate and market international-quality crops and livestock in some of the toughest terrains on the planet. They’ve pushed phone companies to expand into areas that are unlikely to be commercially viable because they know, better than most, how important a simple cyclone or tsunami warning SMS can be for communities that are a 10 hour boat ride from others.

CARE Scene of the storm’s impact in Vanuatu.

Scene of the storm’s impact in Vanuatu. Credit: CARE

 

This toughness, this resilience, is one of the most remarkable stories of Cyclone Pam. Within days of the cyclone hitting, people were out in the street, many on empty stomachs and with little water, lifting destroyed iron sheets into piles and chopping away at timber.

I arrived in the Vanuatu capital Port Vila on Sunday 15 March, and with Cyclone Pam’s winds and rains still lingering in the south of the country, there was a darkness, both literally and emotionally, that was hard to miss. The airport was still officially closed; it looked like it’d been bombed. Yet within 24 hours, the roads were full of people lining up for gas and chopping at trees strewn across their path.

The energy to get on with recovery and rebuilding was everywhere, and it was infectious. When I was passing through Port Vila’s Freshwota area four days after the storm, I stopped to see a family pulling apart a huge structure made of iron and timber. Robert, the elderly man who was leading the charge, told me that it was the entire roof of the nearby government building that had blown 100 miles through the air, and that sitting underneath it was the flattened shell of his former home.

Shocked, I put my arm on Robert’s shoulder and asked if he was ok.

“Well,” Robert told me with a half-smile. “It’s not too bad. Now I have some great new materials for my new home.”

And this remarkable positivity – this resilience – is reflected across the country.

Yet make no mistake, despite this resilience, Cyclone Pam has been a massive disaster for the people of Vanuatu. It has destroyed 15,000 homes, left much of the country without food or clean drinking water, and blown away around 90 per cent of the country’s crops.

This disaster needs, and will continue to need, a massive response from the international community.

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Making the Path Straight to Global Health: Saving Lives Together

By Katie Pace, Public Content Specialist, MAP International

Katie Pace, Public Content Specialist, MAP International

Katie Pace, Public Content Specialist, MAP International

A few short weeks ago we were hand delivering very special cargo, as the plane turned at an extreme angle into Tequcigalpa, Honduras, one of the world’s most dangerous airstrips, I hoped that we would land safely for this momentous occasion.  When the plane safely met land, our group was thrilled, we would be able to deliver our medicines to a clinic in need and reach the $5 billion mark in medicines delivered by MAP International.  We have delivered medicines and medical supplies for 60 years, to over 100 countries, impacting millions of people, but for me, this will be the most memorable shipment.

This team encompassed some of the best Georgia leaders to provide health, hope and a better way of life to people living in remote villages in Honduras.  It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to not only see the lives changed by what we do, but to interact with the missionaries carrying out our life’s work.  This was so much more than delivering our medicines to those in need, this was joining with the Atlanta community to change lives in Honduras through global health.

This week in Honduras was completely out of the norm for our typically journeys, and for that I am eternally grateful because it’s not every day that we get to see the full scope of how medicines change lives and how the leaders of Atlanta make a difference worldwide.

In Tequcigalpa we joined with Honduras Outreach Inc (HOI) based in Atlanta as well as The HAVE Foundation’s Wilderness Team, made up of mostly Atlanta Rotarians to make the 7 hour bus ride to the Agalta Valley.

The remote Agalta Valley has 50,000 inhabitants that HOI and HAVE partner with to improve their lives through education and health care.  At MAP, we see the HOI clinic as the heart of the Agalta Valley community.  We had the honor of bringing enough antibiotics from two Atlanta based pharmaceutical companies to last the clinic an entire year, as well as one of our Johnson & Johnson Medical Mission Packs that is packed with the best donated J&J products to treat a wide range of conditions.    We were also pleased to see medical equipment from MedShare, another Atlanta based NGO in the Agalta Valley clinic.

Each morning, members of the community come mostly by foot or horseback to be seen by the clinics impressive Dr. German Jimenez and his nurses. One mother walked over 30 minutes through a river with her sick infant son to receive medical care, the HOI clinic is the only clinic in the Agalta Valley and it has a vast impact.

Charro, a mother in rural Honduras walked 30 minutes through a river above her knees to bring her child to the clinic.  Photo credit: Katie Pace, MAP International

Charro, a mother in rural Honduras walked 30 minutes through a river above her knees to bring her child to the clinic.  Photo credit: Katie Pace, MAP International

We were privileged to see hundreds of patients that week and each one left healthier than they arrived because of proper medical care.  On day 2, I was standing in front of the clinic staring down the long road that leads each patient there, watching a woman ride slowly towards me on a horse.  It was only after she dismounted that I saw the young child seated behind her.  Mary was 7 and had a difficult time dismounting the horse, she never removed her hood from her head even though it was a very warm morning.  As she walked towards the clinic it was very apparent that she could barely stand, she was very sick.  This sweet little girl had been throwing up for days, more than likely from a parasite and was dehydrated.  The clinic treated her for the parasite and gave her Oral Rehydration Salts from MAP to rehydrate her.

The children at this clinic are much like our own, ear aches, coughs and simple infections that are easily treated with basic medicines.  The problem is that medicines are not readily available in

A sick young girl waits on her mother to tie up their horse before walking into the clinic. Photo credit: Katie Pace, MAP International

A sick young girl waits on her mother to tie up their horse before walking into the clinic. Photo credit: Katie Pace, MAP International

the Agalta Valley, unless you come to the HOI clinic.  This clinic brightens the lives of the children in the community by providing them with medicines, medicines that can create a healthier happier life for a child with worms, a common cold or suffering from days of diarrhea.  These medicines are so important to the world and the people that we serve.

On our final day in Honduras we were honored to have the President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez join MAP’s CEO, Steve Stirling in the Agalta Valley to receive MAP’s $5 billionth shipment of medicines and supplies delivered to over 100+ countries in 60 years.  “We’ve gone from $4 billion to $5 billion in just 3 short years, so why can’t we go from $5 billion to $10 billion in less time?” says MAP CEO Steve Stirling.  “Working through partners like HOI we can save even more lives.”

MAP CEO Steve Stirling presents MAP’s $5 billionth mark in medicines delivered to Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras and the First Lady.  Photo credit: Greg Thompson

MAP CEO Steve Stirling presents MAP’s $5 billionth mark in medicines delivered to Juan Orlando Hernandez, President of Honduras and the First Lady.  Photo credit: Greg Thompson

MAP International has provided medical aid to the people of Honduras for over 25 years and last year alone we provided over $36 million in medicines and supplies to Honduras through partners like HOI.  We all need to be inspired and encouraged to continue our work to make Global Health a reality in the far reaches of the world.  Partnering with Atlanta organizations like Honduras Outreach Inc., The HAVE Foundation and the Atlanta Rotary has inspired us to do even more for the people of Honduras.

Our aim in to save lives, but we can only do this with our partners help.  Our partners make the communities where we provide medical aid thrive and they give them a hope for better future.  I was inspired to see members of the Atlanta Rotary, the Atlanta media, Georgia’s own Vince Dooley and even a ER physician at Emory shoveling concrete to make the school in the Agalta Valley a safer place for the children.  “We are trying to make straight the path,” said Georgia great, Vince Dooley.  This entire project in Honduras encompasses all we stand for, Global Health.

UGA’s Vince Dooley shovels concrete at a school in Honduras with Atlanta Rotary and The HAVE Foundation’s Wilderness Team’s Gray Campbell and Clark Dean.  Photo credit: Katie Pace, MAP International

UGA’s Vince Dooley shovels concrete at a school in Honduras with Atlanta Rotary and The HAVE Foundation’s Wilderness Team’s Gray Campbell and Clark Dean.  Photo credit: Katie Pace, MAP International

MAP’s $5 billion shipment did so much more than just originate in the great state of Georgia, it brought the kindness and generosity that is Atlanta to those in need in Honduras.

Learn more about Global Health Day 2015

Learn more about MAP International

Learn more about Honduras Outreach Inc.

Learn more about The HAVE Foundation

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Georgia’s Critical Mass of Global Health Organizations Could Make Up a Statewide Alliance

Mark's Portrait

Mark Rosenberg, MD, MPP President and CEO, The Task Force for Global Health

By Mark Rosenberg, MD, MPP President and CEO, The Task Force for Global Health

Global health pioneer Bill Foege demonstrated in the 1960s and ’70s that eradicating a devastating disease such as smallpox requires collaboration among governments, organizations, and large teams of healthcare workers. These problems are too large, he said, for any one person or organization to solve on its own. Coalitions are absolutely critical.

Although Foege’s experience with smallpox eradication demonstrated that global health had to be a collective effort, the global health community has struggled to understand the principles of effective collaboration and apply them successfully. Last year’s Ebola outbreak was not effectively addressed until the global health community was mobilized to work together on the issue. Africa’s HIV epidemic did not slow in the last decade until donors began working together with affected countries on the issue. Similarly, programs to control and eliminate neglected tropical diseases have only succeeded because of sustained collaborations among endemic countries, global health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and donors.

An alliance among Georgia’s global health organizations could help connect this community to work collaboratively on large issues. It also could serve as a resource for members and other organizations interested in engaging the sector, and advocate for global health priorities at the state, national, and international levels. An alliance would contribute to the economic development of the state by strengthening Georgia’s global brand and helping to attract new organizations to the state. It would also provide a mechanism for Georgia’s global health organizations to apply their expertise in solving global health problems to public health issues in Georgia.

Through its Global to Local Initiative, the Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA) partnered with the Tukwila Community Center to provide Somali women in South King County with the opportunity to participate in culturally appropriate, weekly physical activity classes to improve their health. WGHA’s experiences with addressing health disparities in South King County are helping Georgia stakeholders understand the potential contributions that could be made by a Georgia Global Health Alliance.

The Washington Global Health Alliance seeded Global to Local, a non-profit that partners with the Tukwila Community Center to provide Somali women in South King County with the opportunity to participate in culturally appropriate, weekly physical activity classes to improve their health. Global to Local’s experiences with addressing health disparities in South King County are helping Georgia stakeholders understand the potential contributions that could be made by a Georgia Global Health Alliance.

Georgia has a critical mass of organizations that could begin to work together in an alliance. They include academic institutions, nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, corporations, government agencies, and trade associations that are already engaged in global health work or could contribute in meaningful ways. The Washington Global Health Alliance (WGHA) has been providing guidance about how a Georgia alliance might operate. Since 2007, WGHA has been forging collaboration within its global health sector to improve the health of people around the world including residents of Washington State. WGHA started with six members that each committed initial funding combined with a grant from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. WGHA now has 65 members spanning diverse sectors and a budget of $1.2 million.

One of WGHA’s biggest contributions has been to map the global health sector in Washington to identify existing connections among members and opportunities for new collaborations. Out of this work, WGHA facilitated a partnership between the Seattle Sounders professional soccer team and four global health organizations in the state to propose an innovative program in Tanzania to promote health equity called “Wealth and Health.” The four global health organizations involved in the partnership–PATH, World Vision, the University of Washington, and Washington State University–had all been working in the Tanzanian city of Arusha for years, but never together until WGHA cultivated this collaboration. WGHA has facilitated other partnerships to bridge the non-profit and corporate worlds by exploring how business expertise could address supply and logistical issues encountered by global health organizations in the developing world. In return, the nonprofits have provided their expertise to corporate partners in working in emerging markets. In 2014 alone, WGHA facilitated more than 255 partnerships.

While working to bring together the global health community, WGHA has also been supporting what Dr. Howard Hiatt, former dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, calls “global health at home.” In Washington State, residents of South King County suffer high rates of poverty and disease, with health outcomes comparable to those experienced by people in Kenya. Through the Global to Local initiative, WGHA is working with its members to identify global health approaches that could help address health disparities in South King County. Swedish Health Services, a large non-profit medical provider in the Seattle area and a WGHA member, has committed $1 million in funding to the initiative. Georgia’s health equity issues are equally as pressing as those in South King County, and a Georgia alliance could help bring to bear solutions that have worked in other parts of the world. For example, community health workers have helped improve health outcomes for people in the developing world with chronic diseases such as HIV. A similar strategy might be employed in Georgia to help promote medication compliance for people with diabetes, HIV, and other chronic health conditions.

Georgia is well positioned to become a global health hub. In addition to its large, diverse group of organizations already working in the space, it has a world-class international airport that provides a gateway to all parts of the globe. Stakeholders from Georgia global health organizations have been learning from WGHA representatives about their experiences in making Washington a global health center. WGHA representatives recently traveled to Atlanta to meet with Georgia stakeholders to discuss elements of the WGHA model of collaboration that may be useful to Georgia. Those discussions will continue in earnest over the coming months and are expected to help a Georgia Global Health Alliance take flight.

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Elimination of Malaria on Hispaniola Targeted with $29.9 Million Grant

By Charles Stokes

By Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation

By Charles Stokes, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation

Malaria has long been intertwined in world history, with characteristic malaria symptoms noted as far back as 2700 BCE. Unfortunately, malaria today remains a deadly disease, one that also holds back economic activity. The good news is that important progress is helping to better control malaria—even eliminating indigenous cases in some parts of the world.

The CDC Foundation recently announced a new consortium with the goal of ending malaria on the island of Hispaniola. The consortium is being funded through a $29.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and is bringing together partners led by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to eliminate indigenous cases of malaria on the island of Hispaniola by 2020.

Hispaniola, which includes the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is the only remaining island in the Caribbean where malaria is endemic. In Haiti, where the majority of Hispaniola’s malaria cases occur, there were more than 20,000 confirmed cases in 2013.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die. However, malaria is preventable and treatable.

Haitian health worker Jonel Mompremier pricks the finger of a young child to test his blood for malaria parasites in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. Credit: The Carter Center

Haitian health worker Jonel Mompremier pricks the finger of a young child to test his blood for malaria parasites in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. Credit: The Carter Center

Eliminating malaria will save lives and result in increased productivity and economic gains for the people of Hispaniola as well as attract foreign investment and safeguard existing philanthropic investments. Additionally, eliminating malaria on the island will lessen the burden on Hispaniola’s public health systems, freeing up resources to tackle other pressing health issues.

The Haiti Malaria Elimination Consortium (HaMEC) being formed through this grant will work closely with the international community and partners on Hispaniola to eliminate indigenous cases of malaria in Haiti. HaMEC includes three Atlanta-based organizations—CDC, the CDC Foundation and The Carter Center Center. In addition, HaMEC includes the Haiti Ministry of Public Health and Population, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Public Health, the Pan American Health Organization, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

These organizations will collectively work to assist the countries of Hispaniola in developing, adopting and implementing an evidence-based strategy and operational plan for achieving malaria elimination. The group will also secure the additional financial resources needed to achieve elimination, improve and refine malaria surveillance systems, and reduce malaria transmission through implementation of effective community-based interventions that are tailored to the level of malaria risk in high-prevalence areas. The goal of the group is to eliminate malaria on Hispaniola by 2020.

Learn how you can support the effort to make malaria history in Hispaniola.

Stokes is president and CEO of the CDC Foundation

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Working Behind the Scenes in the Fight Against Ebola

By Carolyn Baer, CARE’s Senior Technical Advisor, Sexual and Reproductive Health for Emergencies

By Carolyn Baer, CARE’s Senior Technical Advisor, Sexual and Reproductive Health for Emergencies

By Carolyn Baer, CARE’s Senior Technical Advisor, Sexual and Reproductive Health for Emergencies

Landing in Monrovia, Liberia, I immediately started taking in the sights and sounds of this small West African country that Ebola has hit so hard. My ultimate task was to provide operational support for colleagues directly addressing the Ebola crisis, but in the short term I was struck by how the health crisis already had influenced culture there.

Where one normally might shake a person’s hand to greet them, for example, they bumped elbows instead – thus respecting the “no-touch” rule that was commonly upheld by both the foreign aid workers and the Liberians. Having lived and worked in Africa for many years, I didn’t immediately adapt to the new greeting. For the first few days, as I extended my hand to introduce myself, the gesture would usually end with a light scold from one of the aid workers. This was only one of the many behavioral changes that Liberians have made since Ebola arrived and began ravaging their country.

It was a clear measure of how serious our work was.

As a CARE employee with years of experience in both global health development and emergencies, I was asked by the Liberian office of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and eHealth Africa, a technology focused nonprofit and CDC partner, to visit Liberia for one month to provide operational and logistical support to the epidemiologists — both local and American — who were responding to the Ebola outbreak there. Many of the locations in which they worked were incredibly remote, with few amenities, and that only compounded the need for operational oversight.

In some cases, for instance, it took two or three days to travel about 375 miles. The roads contained deep trenches where rain collected, leaving drivers unsure of how deep the trenches were — or how safe the passage was. “Bridges” often were mere planks of wood casually thrown across a creek. Food and water were not readily available in some areas, leading the logistics team to recommend that traveling field teams carry with them at least two weeks’ worth of each. Field teams spent weeks at a time in these rural areas, walking between villages and working closely with officials from the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in order to support active surveillance, provide guidance on infection prevention and control activities, and determine contacts of known Ebola cases.

During my time there, I helped oversee the field team’s orientation, geographical placement and operational needs. I helped ensure reliable transportation, communication and administrative support so they could focus on their tasks in the field. This was a real-time global health emergency whose rapidly changing landscape was not always easy — but was always necessary — to navigate.

I am grateful to CARE, the CDC and eHealth Africa for the opportunity to have helped chart that course on the ground — and am humbled to have played a small part in the global effort. I deeply appreciate and respect all those who have engaged in the response, especially those on the front lines caring for and comforting others so directly caught in the crisis.

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