Tommy Thompson – A New Global Ambassador

On the heels of the G-8 leaders’ commitment to raise awareness and to support efforts to eliminate the NTDs impacting more than one billion people worldwide, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson was announced as the Global Ambassador for the Global Network at the National Press Club on July 16th.

At his Newsmaker Forum, Secretary Thompson announced his new role in the global and domestic fights against NTDs, as well as how combating NTDs is a critical component of global medical diplomacy. Secretary Thompson and Dr. Peter Hotez also discussed new support from the Gates Foundation for the Global Network’s advocacy efforts.

The Global Network in Rwanda & Burundi – Early Mapping & Treatment Successes

Launched with a generous $8.9 million donation from Geneva Global, the Global Network programs in Rwanda and Burundi are now entering year two of providing essential treatments for NTD control. Leaders and community members in both countries have demonstrated great enthusiasm for the program, following the many successes achieved in the first year. The Rwanda program reached substantial milestones, including staff recruitment and training; mapping for soil transmitted helminths (STHs) and schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF) and trachoma; and national mass drug administration (MDA) in pre-school children and pilot MDA in school-aged children in two districts.

In 2007, the Rwanda program in collaboration with UNICEF treated over 1.1 million pre-school children, and another 250,000 children and adults were dewormed for STHs and schistosomiasis. The program will be equipped to build on these achievements in the upcoming years, as mapping data is fully collected and treatment programs are expanding.

Despite recent conflict, over the last year the NTD program in Burundi has accomplished great successes. To begin, the national mapping for schistosomiasis, STHs, LF, trachoma and onchocerciasis was refined and concluded. Training of key health staff and Community Drug Distributers (CDDs) was completed. In December 2007, country wide distribution of albendazole, a drug that treats soil-transmitted helminths, occurred with a coverage rate of 93.9%.

Most importantly and most recently, there have been substantial improvement in 12 schools in the three pilot regions - Bururi, Cibitoke and Bubanza. These successes include a 66.1% decrease in schistosomiasis, a 17.3% decrease in ascaris, a 59.2% decrease in hookworm and a 41.5% decrease in trichuris since the program implementation began in 2007.

Got Loose Change?

The Loose Change campaign, a grassroots fundraising and awareness campaign run by the Global Network, was created by Rotary member Dennis Wong, who was inspired by a New York Times piece by opinion writer Nicholas Kristof on the devastation caused by NTDs. Motivated by the enormous personal impact that such a small sum of money could have, Mr. Wong began collecting pocket change from his fellow Rotarians during meetings, with some amazing results: within the first four weeks, he had raised over $600.

Following suit, Alex Huddell, a senior at Unionville high school in West Chester, Pennsylvania, raised roughly $2,300 for the Global Network. She raised money by selling t-shirts to her classmates and her church members. Similar campaigns are underway in Boston, New York City, Amsterdam and Japan.

A donation of just 50 cents can provide treatment for the seven most common NTDs to an individual for an entire year. If you are interested in donating or starting a Loose Change campaign, please visit .